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Against All Odds #1

Welcome to my main save on FM23 with the oldest club in Norway, Odds Ballklub. The name of the blog “Against All Odds” has a slight issue in that the team is commonly referred to as “Odd” so, in the blogs, I will call them Odd. Playing in the Eliteserien in Norway, where this season in real life, they have just finished in 5th place. Their season is played over the summer between March-November and there are two options for the start of the game: start in 2022 or 2023. The problem I found with starting in 2023 is that a lot of the first-team players were out of contract so are not with the club if you start in 2023. I will start in 2022 and I have the current squad who have just finished 5th, which will be a good target to reach in the first season.

In this blog, we will look at the current squad, and the likely formation and starting XI that I will look to use, at least to start with.

Goalkeepers

First Choice – Leopold Wahlstedt

A solid choice in goal, Wahlstedt is an attacking, aggressive keeper who enjoys closing down defenders and rushing off his line. With great jumping reach and one on ones, he should be able to save plenty of shots that he faces. At 22, he can be our No. 1 for several years to come.

Leopold Wahlstedt – 2022

Out on Loan – Sondre Rossbach

This is a strange decision. Rossbach was the main goalie at Odd for years, coming through the academy. This season, he has been loaned out to league rivals Valerenga. With Wahlstedt being slightly ahead of him and 4 years younger, I cannot see Rossbach coming back as a first-choice player. Hopefully, we can get a good fee for him next winter once he comes back.

Sondre Rossbach – 2022

Back-up – Peder Nygaard Klausen

A young option in net with great aerial reach, command of area and handling. With 14 determination and a fairly professional personality, he will hopefully develop well being our backup or out on loan somewhere if we decide to have our other keeper as a backup.

Peder Nygaard Klausen – 2022

Youth – Lars Dahlen

The final keeper in the team is a 16-year-old on a youth contract with much of the similar qualities as Klausen. Being two years younger, I would prefer to keep him at the club as I believe that players should be developed at the club until they are 18 before being loaned out for game time. I think this was some information from a developer at SI but I can’t remember who. I am really excited about Dahlen and he could become a really good player for us in several years.

Lars Dahlen – 2022

Right Backs

First Choice – Espen Ruud

At 38, Ruud is an experienced full-back who might be a bit vulnerable in the speed department. I am prepared for his physicals to fall off a cliff very soon but at his age, he could probably last the season with us still playing regularly.

Espen Ruud – 2022

Back up – Kevin Egell-Johnsen

Egell-Johnsen has well-rounded attributes in all the important areas without having any particular strengths. He will be given game time regularly to help Ruud and hopefully become his replacement. With only a year left on his contract, we will definitely be looking to renew it this year.

Kevin Egell-Johnsen – 2022

Youth – Simen Ostby

Ostby could be a right-back or a centre-back, I am unsure where I want him to play, especially with Egell-Johnsen playing ahead of him. It might be better to push him inside to play centrally and make use of his passing to turn him into a ball-playing defender. Let me know your thoughts on this guy.

Centre Backs

First Choice – Odin Bjortuft

If we can keep Bjortuft for a longer spell, he could become a club legend. There are a few young players in this squad and having a solid young defender is excellent. With no obvious weakness in his game, he will always be a solid option at the back, although AaB and Brondby are interested in him.

Odin Bjortuft – 2022

First Choice – Steffen Hagen

Another old defender in the team but there is no way that I can leave Hagen out of the starting lineup. He has been at the club since 2006 and has a model citizen personality, one of the best in the game. I will be looking to use him to mentor some younger players and hope that personality can be spread amongst the team.

Steffen Hagen – 2022

Back up – Ivan Mesik

The first player that we have on loan, the 20-year-old from FC Nordsjaelland is a very solid player and one that I would love to have permanently. With great technical attributes, I can see him as the replacement for either Hagen when he gets older or Bjortuft if I struggle to keep hold of him.

Ivan Mesik – 2022

Back up – Solomon Owusu

It is not often that I have four centre-backs that I would happily start. A natural at either centre-back or defensive midfielder with the ability to play out on the right or left, Owusu is a versatile defender who can do everything apart from head the ball, jump and stay focused. Other than that, he can be a great player on his day. He is also tied down to a 3-year contract so he will be a good option for a long time.

Solomon Owusu – 2022

Left Backs

First Choice – Josef Baccay

Another young player who has joined the club this season, Baccay is a great attacking wing-back. His pace, stamina, teamwork and work rate are all excellent for this level and I am hopeful that he will be able to have our own Andrew Robertson in Norway.

Josef Baccay – 2022

Back up/Youth – Samuel Skree Skjeldal

The first option that I am not massively convinced by although he is a decent option. Skjeldal has 11 in a lot of attributes and whilst he is young and will get better, I am not convinced he is ready for a backup position in the squad. I might loan him out and get in a new replacement who is a bit better but I will wait until I get someone in before getting him a loan.

Samuel Skree Skjedal – 2022

Central Midfielders

First Choice – Filip Ronningen Jorgensen

I am really looking forward to managing this guy. At 19 years old, he is the best midfielder in our team and has all the attributes to be a great playmaker. He is wanted by Porto so the fact that a Champions League team is interested in one of our players is huge! He is also on peanuts compared to some other players so we can definitely afford to give him more in the future.

Filip Ronningen Jorgensen – 2022

First Choice – Vebjorn Hoff

Our second player on loan is Hoff, who was sold to Rosenborg for £350k and then loaned back to us after playing 16 games. He is a great option and has very similar attributes to Jorgensen. He will play further forward, acting as the Mezzala on the left, despite being better suited as a playmaker. We have a lot of playmakers…

Vebjorn Hoff – 2022

First Choice – Syver Aas

Another young player who is good enough to be starting for us is Aas. He has a perfectionist personality and 16 determination which I am hoping will help him progress and develop well, possibly replacing Jorgensen as our best centre midfielder or taking over if a huge bid comes in for Jorgensen.

Syver Aas – 2022

Back up – Magnus Lekven

A similar play to Aas but at the other end of his career, at 34 years old, Lekven is a good option when we need to rotate or a player is tired/injured. As a team leader, we will need to keep him happy although he has agreed to be a squad player.

Magnus Lekven – 2022

Youth – Jesper Svenungsen Skau

Whilst Skau is a good player and has a lot of potential, it is hard to see him fitting into the side when we already have two teenagers in the first team. A loan may be the best option for him but similar to Skjedal, we would need to ensure that we have enough depth options before letting him go out.

Jesper Svenungsen Skau – 2022

Dead Wood – Thomas Rekdal

I can only see Rekdal playing when we have injuries or if we are in serious trouble with squad depth. He is an influential player so we have to be careful and is only expecting to be a breakthrough player, and he does have some key attributes such as teamwork and passing but he is not great outside of the attributes for the midfield role. I will see give him plenty of game time in the 2nd team and see if he develops.

Thomas Rekdal – 2022

Right Wingers

First Choice – Milan Jevtovic

I will look to play with a winger on the right and an inverted winger on the left. Jevtovic has excellent ability as a winger: he can run, cross and dribble as well as being right-footed. I am not sure how his player trait of cutting inside will play with the winger role though.

Milan Jevtovic – 2022

Back up – Mikael Inge Ingebrigtsen

Equally strong is Ingebrigtsen and I have found it quite tricky to work out players’ best positions as we have a lot of good wingers who are mostly able to play with both feet. Ideally, I would prefer the right winger to have a stronger right foot but I will probably play Ingebrigtsen as an inside forward to make use of his strong left foot.

Mikael Noro Ingebrigtsen – 2022

Youth – Dennis Gjengaar

I was unsure where to put Gjengaar on this list. He can play anywhere on the right and is natural as a winger or a wing-back. The only problem with him playing more defensively would be his tackling, heading and concentration, as well as having to share the position with Egell-Johnsen. As a winger, he has some great attacking attributes and a perfectionist personality. He is wanted by First Division teams on loan so that might be an option that we consider with him to help his development.

Dennis Gjengaar – 2022

Left Wingers

First Choice – Gilli Rolantsson

A versatile winger who the media think is an excellent full-back, Rolantsson can play anywhere on the left. We will look to exploit his pace and acceleration to get past teams and put a ball in the box. He also has 17 long throws so I may be able to do a throw-in tactic for the first time.

Gilli Rolantsson – 2022

Back up – Conrad Wallem

A slower but more technically gifted player, Wallem is a well-rounded attacker who played every single match in the league last year. With that experience at 21, he is on his way to reaching his potential and whilst he might not start every game, I hope he will be a solid option to come on and change a game if we need him.

Conrad Wallem – 2022

Strikers

First Choice – Adama Diomande

The first of our 30+-year-old strikers, ex-Hull and LAFC attacker Diomande has some excellent ability at this level. He only has a year left on his contract so we will need to tie him down for longer in the future although the board only want us to give 2-year contracts to players over 32.

Adama Diomande – 2022

Back up – Philipp Zulechner

Lacking in technical ability, Zulechner is a mentality monster who will give everything for the team and provide us with extra motivation off the bench. With the experience of playing in the Bundesliga as well as the top flights in Switzerland and Austria, playing in Norway will hopefully allow him to score plenty of goals, which he has been lacking for several years now, having not scored more than 4 goals since the 2013/14 season.

Philipp Zulechner – 2022

Back up – Flamur Kastrati

The nomadic striker is now playing for his 7th different team in Norway, where he has not scored since 2019! A bit concerning but as long as he stays on the pitch (with 20 aggression and 19 bravery, I can see some red cards coming), I will back him to score goals again for us.

Flamur Kastrati – 2022

Youth – Abel Stensrud

Wanted by Bryne in the Norwegian First Division, Stensrud will probably be loaned out this season but he does have incredible attributes, especially finishing, off the ball and composure, all of which are the same or better than our best striker, Diomande. With his trait of placing shots, he should score buckets of goals.

Abel Stensrud – 2022

Youth – Anders Hartveit Ryste

Our final player is one that I am really excited about. With 16 determination, Ryste will hopefully be our first-choice striker in a few years. He will stick around for now and then maybe have a loan out when he hits 18.

Anders Hartveit Ryste – 2022

Hierarchy

Odd Hierarchy 2022

The hierarchy is pretty self-explanatory: the older players are higher up. With a lot of influential players in the squad, it might be tricky to keep them all happy but the hope is that they become less influential as their playing time decreases.

Tactic

Starting XI – 2022

This is the idea for the tactic and starting lineup, at least from the start of the game. I will tweak it during the friendlies and opening league games if I need to and decide if players need to be swapped roles or dropped.

Board Objectives

The board have a few expectations that we have to meet, only staying within the wage budget and finishing in the top half. The latter stages of the cup is desired and all the other contract objectives are favoured but we could break a few of them. It is nice to not be expected to play a certain style straight away.

Outro

A bit of a long introduction to the squad but I wanted to give the time to introduce all the players at the start of the save. Next blog, we will go over the transfers if we make any, the fixtures (mainly friendlies but we might get onto the league games) and a look at one other area of the club, possibly staff as we currently have 0 scouts!

Thank you for reading and I will catch you next time!

FM Pioneers (@FMPioneers)

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Teams To Manage On Football Manager 2023

As Football Manager 2023 has been out for over a week now, I wanted to highlight some of the oldest clubs in the world that are in the playable leagues in FM23. Some teams you will be very familiar with, others not so much and all have their own challenges to try and achieve with a particularly interesting challenge in Denmark. I’ll say no more than that for now, you will have to read on to find out (or just scroll to the last one!). If you are still looking for a save to get invested in, or a challenge to try and complete, this is a list you may be interested in!

Wrexham

Wrexham – Information

Wrexham have been in the spotlight for a lot of obvious reasons over the past couple of years due to their owners being Hollywood celebrities and because of this, the expectations of the club are high. The whole world are watching them and they are providing some excellent performances, frequently scoring 5 or more in matches. They were definitely a go-to choice on FM22 and missing out on promotion from the Vanarama National League means that the challenge to get out of the non-league is still there.

Wrexham – League History

Challenge

The challenge for this save will be to get promoted to the Premier League within 5 seasons. It gives you only one season to not get promoted so you will have to spend the budget and look to bring in players to help rocket your way up to the Championship with consecutive promotions and an extra season in the Championship should you require it.

Queen’s Park

Queen’s Park – Information

The birth place of football in Scotland, Queen’s Park have had two great seasons, leading them to back-to-back promotions. These have been possible due to the club finally becoming professional after 152 years of amateur status. They have had some great players, the most notable one being current Scotland caption Andy Robertson. They will be in the Scottish Championship heading into this campaign, and are predicted to finish 10th.

Queen’s Park – League History

Challenge

The challenge for Queen’s Park is to become the best team in Scotland, which means overthrowing your Glasgow rivals, Celtic and Rangers. Not an easy task but with the club turning professional, it will hopefully give you a lot more strength than in previous seasons. Maybe you will be able to discover the next captain of Scotland to replace Andy Robertson.

Cliftonville

Cliftonville – Information

Cliftonville are the first side in this list who are in a European competition which I know is an important consideration for people’s saves. They are a semi-professional club, as are most, if not all teams in Northern Ireland, so challenging in Europe will be a tricky task. With the team predicted to finish 3rd and having to compete domestically with Linfield, it may be a few seasons before you can start planning seriously for Europe.

Cliftonville – League History

Challenge

Overthrow Linfield’s dominance. They have won 8 leagues whilst Cliftonville have only won 2 and that was 9 years ago. Competing financially will be a challenge but with the league having a big gulf in quality, similar to in Scotland, it should be easy to assert dominance over the other teams. Just focus on Linfield and everything should be ok.

St. Gallen

St. Gallen – Information

St. Gallen play in the Swiss League and they have had a fairly unsuccessful history. They won the Swiss League in 1904 and then again in 2000. Since then, they have been relegated twice, winning the Challenge League twice to get promoted at the first time of asking. You are allowed 10 non-EU players in the squad and it takes 10 years to gain Swiss citizenship so scouting for South American wonderkids might be a bit tougher in this save!

St. Gallen – League History

Challenge

In a small league where everyone plays each other 4 times, you will have to beat the likes of Young Boys and Basel more often than losing to them if you want to finish above them. When you get into European competitions, that will become even harder. The challenge for this save will be to compete with the top teams in the league and beat Basel’s record of 8 league titles in a row! Just be aware of all the board expectations.

Antwerp

Antwerp – Information

On the surface, Antwerp looks like a really fun team to manage – they have some great players such as Nainngolan, Alderweireld, Janssen and Ritchie De Laet. They are also in Europe although they have to get through three qualifying rounds to be in the group stage. The debt is crazy! The club is having to pay back £875k of loans every month, on top of making the usual losses throughout the season. I started a save and within 6 months, I was struggling in the league and had -£14.5m in the balance. Not a great start.

Antwerp – League History

Challenge

Clear the debt! If you can manage to clear the debt and have a successful, money-making football club, I doff my cap to you. If you can win their first league title since 1957, even better!

Odds Ballklubb

Odd – Information

Odd is going to be my first main save of FM23 so I will be doing an introduction blog to them very soon. They have lacked consistency during their time in the top flight of Norway in the past two decades, including a relegation, and they are predicted to finish nearer the bottom half of the table. With great facilities, you can really start to build a good squad and push for European places.

Odd – League History

Challenge

Build up Norway’s reputation in the European league rankings. By consistently achieving qualification to European competitions, you will help Norway’s reputation grow. You already have some strong teams in Europe such as Bodo/Glimt, Molde and Rosenborg. Become the dominant team in Norway whilst also getting to the later stages of European competitions.

Albion

Albion – Information

The first team outside of Europe is Albion of Uruguay. I have tried to understand the league rules but I think it is one that you need to experience to fully understand (any South Americans reading this, please help me!). There are 3 stages, the opening stage, the intermedio group stage and the closing stage as well as some playoffs. The teams who finish in the bottom 3 in the average points table over the past two seasons get relegated, which makes it quite hard for newly promoted sides as they don’t have the points from last season to help them if they are struggling. You can have a squad size of 99 players, but only 6 can be foreign, so you basically have a full Uruguayan squad.

Albion – League History

Challenge

Having spent a long time in the amateur leagues, Albion are not ready for this level of football. They were promoted to the second tier in 2017 and then won promotion in 2021. The main challenge will be just to keep them up. Once you have become a stable club in Uruguay, you can start to look up and compete with Penarol and Nacional who win the league pretty much every year. On the plus side, Albion already hold the record for the fewest points in a season, earning a huge 0 points in 1905!

Santiago Wanderers

Santiago Wanderers – Information

Staying in South America, we cross over to Chile and Santiago Wanderers. Unlike Albion who have been promoted to the first division, Santiago Wanderers found themselves relegated to the second division for the 3rd time in 15 years last season. Chile has a more straightforward league system, although their squad selection rules are a bit stricter. One rule that is confusing my is that “total minutes played by Under-21 players must be at least equal to 70% of the time played by the team in this stage”. I am assuming that it only refers to the 2 players you require to have under 21 in the match day squad and not that the whole squad has to be at least 70% under 21 players. If anyone has managed in Chile recently, please let me know!

Santiago Wanderers – League History

Challenge

Get them back to the top flight and win their first league title since 2001. If the under 21 rule above does only consider the two players in the squad, go one further and change the rule so that you have to have at least 8 players (over 70%) of your starting XI be under 21. That’s a hardcore challenge for South American regulars! Give me 20 years and I’ll try that one!

Genoa

Genoa – Information

I think Genoa will be a popular save this season, similar to how Schalke was when they were relegated. Predicted to bounce back up after their relegation from Serie A last season, Genoa are a team who have been a stable club in Serie A since their meteoric rise in the mid-’00s after a match-fixing allegation saw them relegated to Serie C despite winning Serie B on the final day (possibly illegally). The board have conflicting views, with them wanting to sign high-reputation players but also players from the lower levels of Italy. You can also focus on youth players with the facilities at the club.

Genoa – League History

Challenge

Win the first Serie A title for Genoa. They have only finished runners-up, the latest in 1924 so it has been almost 100 years since a top-two finish. Go one better and win a league title. Just make sure you do it legally, no save a reloading or the title will be stripped from you, the Italian FA will find out!

Académica

Académica – Information

Académica have had a really tough time in recent years, suffering two relegations down to the Portuguese third tier. To make it worse, they are not predicted to go back up straight away, with FM23 predicting them to finish 5th. The positives are that the facilities are great and the biggest stadium in the league (and the second biggest if promotion is achieved in Season 1).

Académica – League History

Challenge

Only 5 clubs have ever won the Portuguese Primeira League (Benfica – 37, Porto – 30, Sporting – 19, Belenenses – 1, Boavista – 1) and only 3 clubs have finished as high as 2nd (Académica, Vitoria de Setubal and Braga – all once). The challenge here is to break into the top 3 and be the sixth club to ever win a league title in Portugal, all before someone else does it!

Huelva

Huelva – Information

There’s a common theme with a lot of these teams in this list – they are struggling after getting relegated. Huelva have finally managed to pick themselves up after suffering three relegations in 15 years. They were finishing as high as 8th in La Liga in 2007 and slowly made their way down the pyramid until they bounced back last season. The finances are insecure so do not expect an easy ride up the divisions.

Huelva – League History

Challenge

Similar to Academica, you are going to have to try and battle past a top 3 in Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid if you want to earn some silverware at Huelva. It will be one “Hell-uv-a” challenge and will require several seasons before you can get near the dizzy heights of the very competitive La Liga once more.

First Vienna

First Vienna – Information

First Vienna found themselves in financial trouble and whilst they were going to get promoted to the 2nd tier in 2017, they found themselves being forced to play in the 5th tier of Austrian football. Over the past 5 seasons, they have managed to drag themselves back up to the 2nd tier of Austria and are predicted to finish midtable. The board have no initial expectations or culture so you can really make your own mark on this club that is on the rise.

First Vienna – League History

Challenge

The main challenge for any Austrian club in modern football is to compete with RB Salzburg. Just be aware of the finances – they have been bankrupt before and the fans would not want to go through the heartache again! You have a grand total of £11,109 in the bank account, with no transfer budget or extra wage budget. What you do have, however, are 10 players who are 21 or under with the potential of 4.5 stars or higher as well as a solid but ageing core. These players will need replacing soon but you could definitely get a year or two out of them.

Hong Kong FC

Hong Kong FC – Information

Hong Kong FC are a bit of a yo-yo club, although each time they get relegated, it usually takes them a couple of years to stay up. They are allowed different squad registration rules from the rest of the league, with no restrictions on foreign players in their squad. However, they still need 9 Hong Kong players in the squad and at least 3 on the pitch at any given time.

Hong Kong FC – League History

Challenge

The supporters would like you to sign English players so the challenge for this save would be to sign as many English players as you can and ultimately win the Asian Champions League with a team of English players. This is tricky to begin with as Hong Kong only has one Champions League group stage spot for winning the league, with 2nd place having to enter in the qualifying rounds. You will also need to build up a core of young English players for them to gain Hong Kong citizenship to make them count towards the 3 Hong Kong players in the squad.

FC Copenhagen

FC Copenhagen – Information

Whilst FC Copenhagen is not the oldest club in Denmark, they are associated with Kjøbenhavns Boldklub. KB formed FC Copenhagen with Boldklubben 1903, with KB becoming FC Copenhagen’s reserve team. FC Copenhagen have been regulars in European competitions in recent years although mostly finish bottom of their groups due to being in the lowest pot for the draw.

KB Affiliate Link
FC Copenhagen – League History

Challenge

The challenge with this save is a bit different due to the original club not existing in the same form. You could try and build up your reserve team (KB) to progress through the leagues by sending them young players on loan, although I do not know how this would work on FM, or if they would be able to progress up the divisions. The second option is to do a homegrown-only challenge, only signing players that come through youth intakes but as a twist, you have to sell the players when they turn 23, keeping your first team as an Under-23 team.

Outro

There is a list of the 14 teams who are part of the Club of Pioneers (the oldest teams in each country) that are available to manage without the need for an additional database. Let me know if you are going to take on any of these challenges during your FM23 journey. Tweet me (@FM_Pioneers) or comment down below. Also, if you have any knowledge of these clubs or leagues, please let me know about them and I will be forever grateful and will give you a shoutout!

Thanks for reading,

FM Pioneers

Club of Pioneers – In Real Life – Part 4

Welcome to the final part of the Club of Pioneers – In Real Life, a look at the oldest clubs in the world and how they are coping with real-life circumstances. If you wanted to catch up on the previous blogs, you can check them out on the page or click here for Part 3.

First Vienna

First Vienna have had a bit of a rough time in the last 5 years. They were declared bankrupt in 2017 and got relegated to the 5th tier of Austrian football. They are making their way up the leagues very quickly. In 2018/19, they were promoted to the 4th tier, the 2019/20 season was abandoned due to Covid but were unbeaten after 18 games. In 2020/21, they were promoted to the 3rd tier. This season so far they are near to the top of the league and are looking strong, putting themselves in a good position to be able to get promoted for the third time in three full seasons, although it is very tight between the top 6.

First Vienna – 21/22 Season
First Vienna – 22/23 Season

CS Fola Esch

Fola Esch won 5 league titles between 1918-30 but had to wait over 80 years for their next title, coming in 2013. Their next league title was not too long after that, in 2015 before winning again in 2021. Their title defence saw them finish down in 3rd, qualifying for the early rounds of the Europa Conference League qualifiers, losing in their first round against Tre Fiori in San Marino. This season in the league, they are really struggling, being down in 13th after 10 games. They have had big defeats too, losing 6-0 to Differedange and 8-1 against Hesperange. With a third of the season already gone, and the top two teams pulling away massively already, Fola Esch could be in some difficulty for the rest of the season.

Fola Esch – 21/22 Season
Fola Esch – 22/23 Season

FK Ljuboten

FK Ljuboten are playing in the Macedonian 3rd tier. They have only been in the top flight for 3 seasons in the 90s so there is little information on them. Last season, they finished 9th. By the look of things, Macedonian football teams are struggling, with 3 of the teams quitting the league before it started. What this will do to the relegation places, I do not know. We will find out together next year!

FK Ljuboten – 21/22 Season
FK Ljuboten – 22/23 Season

FK Sveikata

FK Sveikata have spent 1 year in the top flight since Lithuania’s independence, 3 years in the 2nd flight and then 3rd flight since then. They had been in the top division for a long time during the Soviet occupation in Lithuania. They also had several name changes, with their original name “FK Banga Kybartai” being used for a year before Sveikata (meaning Health) was used until 1949, and then adopted again from 1973. Last season they finished 8th out of 10 and this season, they are currently 13th out of 18 with only 4 wins in 17 games and are the lowest scorers in the league with 13 goals.

FK Sveikata – 21/22 Season
FK Sveikata – 22/23 Season

St George’s FC

Having won the 1916/17 title on a tie-breaker match, St. George’s have not won a league title since. They have had little success since then, bouncing between the 2nd, 3rd and 4th tiers of Maltese football. They got relegated last season and are now 2nd in the National Amateur league, the 3rd tier in Malta.

St George’s – 21/22 Season

Tvøroyrar Bóltfelag

Tvøroyrar Bóltfelag have 7 Faroe Islands Premier League titles, the last one coming in 1987. In recent years, they have merged with two other clubs from the island of Suðuroy although this cooperation ended in 2018. Unfortunately, TB were relegated last season with a disappointing 3 points and not a single win. This season has actually just finished and they have finished 3rd after an extremely poor end to the season which saw them pick up just 2 points in their final 6 games. If they had carried on the same form as they showed at the start of the season, they would have comfortably been promoted. One positive is that they had the top scorer in the league, who scored 25 goals – 10 more than any other player in the league.

TB – 2021 Season
TB – 2022 Season

That is the end of the Club of Pioneers – IRL blog series, which ended up taking much longer than I thought. I had a draft of this blog from August and only got around to finishing at the start of November. This year will be more about learning for me and being more determined to write regularly and consistently about FM and IRL content. Watch this space for more information, including a Who to Manage blog and the introduction to the main blog save for FM23!

Thank you for reading!

Stay safe,

FM Pioneers.

Sheffield FC – The World’s First – Season 6 Episode 2

Welcome to the final episode of the Sheffield FC save and the last save update before the release of FM23! In the last episode, we left things with us sitting in 4th, safely in the playoffs with a lot of games in hand. Could we make the most of those games or would it be another disappointing season for us?

FA Cup

Heading into the FA Cup game, I thought we would struggle a lot and we did. I think we scored from our only shot on target but they were dominant, as they should have been being 5 divisions higher than us! 4-1 was a very flattering scoreline for us, especially as they hit the woodwork 3 times before their first goal. The positive is that we earned £125,000 from the game which is always a benefit for a club of our size. Arsenal also put out a very strong team which you can see below.

Arsenal XI

January

January was a tough month to start the year. The Chesterfield result felt like a win as we had Walker sent off in the 14th minute. Boston result was with a rotated side due to the cup game against Arsenal but we should have won it. The same with Fylde, we were lucky and Perkins looked a mile offside for his late equaliser but we will take all the luck we can get. Back to back wins where we score 4 games, the first one against York was a lovely birthday present for me. The Maidstone result could have been better but their last two goals were scored very late on. Southend were top of the league and we needed to win to keep the pressure on them. We lost and they looked much better in the game so we just have to accept it and hope they slip up later on in the season.

February

Two 1-0 wins were a good start to February and we nearly beat Newport if it wasn’t for a late penalty given away by Brooks. A huge win against Barnet could have been the boost to bring us back to winning ways but a defeat to Eastleigh was appalling, as was the 0-0 against Dagenham and Redbridge, a playoff candidate.

March

An almost perfect month! Chenine scored 4 in the first 3 as he returned from a month long injury. Bonnington rescued a point with a last minute equaliser against Dulwich Hamlet in a real battle. To be honest, with the rest of the games we started to play so well that I was ploughing through matches and didn’t make any notes but I just wanted to keep the flow as we were on a winning streak. Crabb finally made it onto the score sheet at the end of the month after not scoring since the middle of January.

April

Despite all of our wins in March and April, we couldn’t close the gap to Southend. We confirmed a playoff spot against Boston but Southend also sealed the league title in their fixture that gameweek too. We took our foot off the pace against Hartlepool once the playoffs had been achieved but I still didn’t want to fall down the league too much so we could still have a good draw with the playoffs.

May

4 wins from 4 matches to end the league season, with the highlight being Bonnington scoring a hat-trick against Maidstone in the penultimate game of the season. With all of these results, we sealed 2nd spot in the league and we would be heading into the playoff semifinal where we would face our old rivals, Macclesfield! We would be doing it without our star man, Charlie Savage, who is out for 3 matches after picking up 15 yellow cards in the season.

Playoff Semifinal

We really took it to Macclesfield this match. In recent games against them, we have done well but it has always been a tight affair, with them having a strong side due to their financial power. Djurovic scored a brace from the penalty spot and Mills secured a strike that saw us head into half time with a lead of 2 goals. It was very straight forward and at 1am on a Sunday, I was glad it wasn’t too stressful… let’s hope the final goes the same way!

Playoff Final

Well, well, well! I teased this on Twitter as the best match I had ever played on Football Manager. It was 1:30am and I was so wired after this game that I couldn’t sleep. Nothing happened before the 80th minute and I had brought on Crabb, a player who had only scored 4 goals since the new year, to try and turn the game in our favour. In the final 10 minutes, there were 5 goals, a disallowed goal and red card! Talk about drama! We took the lead with two quick fire goals in the 82nd and 83rd from Stephenson and Crabb. They scored in the 88th and 90th but the second was ruled offside and my heart began to race a bit less. Crabb got his second and third goals of the match either side of a red card for Dagenham and Redbridge and promotion was finally secured at the 3rd time of asking! We have done it!

League Table

98 points would have been enough points to win the league every single season before this one. Southend were ridiculous but credit where credit is due, they are worthy title winners. I would have been heartbroken if we hadn’t got promoted after being clear 2nd but you never know with the playoffs.

End of Season Review

Here are some End of Season Review screenshots if you wish to look through them.

Player Stats

The usual suspects are top of the player stats list this season – Fernandez, Savage, Walker and Bonnington. Bonnington, Crabb, Brooks and Stephensen all managed double figures in goals and assists. The only main team player to not get over a 7 rating was Townsend-West who was close but was always a weakness in the team and an area I would definitely look to improve if I were to play another season.

Manager Stats

Another great thing about the playoff final was that it was my 300th game in management. I thought it would be nice to see some of my personal stats for the end of the save, such as fees spent and win percentage.

What Next?

Whilst it is hard to leave Sheffield FC behind having not been able to fully complete the save (which would have been to get to the Premier League and then European competitions), it was unrealistic achievement for the amount that I actually play FM for.

Going forward, I am planning on doing a BETA save solely as a Twitter save with another club from the Club of Pioneers which I have not fully decided on but will have to quickly decide with the BETA being released this evening if you’re reading this on the day it was published (20th October). The main blog save will be with a team in Northern Europe, more to follow soon when I’ve decided on a series title and made a thumbnail. I know I’m being a bit cryptic but all will be revealed soon.

I still need to finish the Club of Pioneers IRL blog, the final one will be coming soon. I always want to do an overview of the clubs that are in FM23 and why you may want to manage them in an upcoming blog probably out next week when I’ve had a play around with the BETA.

Hope you have enjoyed the Sheffield FC save, I know I have. Follow the new BETA save on my Twitter (@fm_pioneers) and keep in touch to be part of the community. I know I say this a lot but I am going to be trying to use Twitter a lot more, doing the Twitter BETA save will hopefully force me to use it more!

Stay safe and see you soon,

FM Pioneers

Sheffield FC – The World’s First – Season 6 Episode 1

Hello and welcome back to the Sheffield FC save. We left it last time with the disappointing news of losing in the playoff final. However, the positive news was that we got a lot of money for playing that match and we have now started to build our new stadium! Will we be playing in League 2 for the stadium opening next summer? We would need to go one step further than last season in order to do that.

Transfers Out

A lot of players left us this season, either on cheap fees or on free transfers. The main players leaving us were Remi Savage, Luke Hall, Daniel Lowey, Kane Patterson, Kane Crichlow and Jamie Soule – who we managed to get £12k for which surprised me!

Transfers In

With a lot of outs comes a lot of ins. We had an issue last season where I wasn’t happy with the depth so with 8 players leaving, we have brought in 12 who are all fairly strong upgrades on the players leaving. I will go through them in order of position apart from the first two who are not new signings as such.

Louie Holzman – Centre Back – On loan from Reading

He’s back! We have secured Holzman on loan from Reading for another season. A solid player for us last season at the back, he stays with us in his final year of his contract. We will probably go in for him at the end of the year for a permanent deal, depending on how high his wage demands are.

Chris Crabb – Striker – On loan from Rotherham

Guess who’s back? Back again. Crabb is back. Tell a friend. Our top scorer from last season returns for a second season. Another player who is in the final year of their contract with their parent club, I thought that we had to get Crabb back after his brilliant season last year.

Jack Kelly – Goalkeeper – Free Transfer from Tottenham

We lost our backup goalkeeper in the summer so we were looking around for a cheap option who had potential but wasn’t too bad in case Marschall gets injured. We settled on Kelly as I was impressed with his handling and reflexes, although he will be our U23 keeper for the season.

Mackye Townsend-West – Right Back – Free Transfer from Stevenage

Townsend-West comes in as a right-back option for this season. There isn’t much between him and Coates so I expected them to rotate a bit before settling on a preferred player. He wasn’t our first choice, but that player went to Stevenage to replace Townsend-West and there wasn’t much in it comparing the two players.

Femi Walker – Centre Back – On loan from Reading

Another loan centre back from Reading, Walker comes in as our first-choice defender. Reading have some very good youngsters, we nearly signed a striker for them before it was cancelled because we were only allowed two players on loan from the same club. Whilst Walker isn’t technically a great player, his mental and physical attributes are pretty good at this level.

James Carragher – Centre Back – Free Transfer from Cambridge

Signed mainly for his defending heritage, Carragher joins us having some very good technical attributes for the role. £300 is quite a lofty wage for a backup defender but with our wage budget getting doubled in the summer, he is actually on a decent wage compared to other players in the squad.

Daniel Djurovic – Left Back – Free Transfer from Morecambe

Coming in as the joint top earner in the squad, we needed a massive improvement at left back and the Aussie defender has some real talent going forward – excellent pace, crossing and dribbling. I expect to see him push forward more than anyone we’ve had in the past few seasons.

Alex Iacovitti – Left Back – Free Transfer from Shrewsbury

Rivalling Djurovic for the left-back spot is ex-Nottingham Forest player Iacovitti. The two players are very different, with Iacovitti being more defensive but he can still be a good player for us. On the older side as well, he has committed to a 3-year contract and whilst he isn’t going to be developing much at 29, he is still a very good option for our team.

Greg Sandiford – Full Back – On loan from Cambridge

To be honest, I brought Sandiford in as a backup left-back before Iacovitti joined us. However, he can play on both sides so whilst he will probably not play a game for us, he can be a solid option on either side.

Sonny Perkins – Centre Midfield – Free Transfer from Blackpool

An upgrade on Gaspar, a new partnership with Savage will need to be developed with Perkins. A very well-rounded player who isn’t massively stand out in one area but he loves to get forward so I am hoping he will be able to support the strikers and lurk around the edge of the area.

Billy Brooks – Centre Midfield/Left Wing – £5.25k from Matlock

Our first signing for actual money, Brooks comes in as a squad player who is on a tiny wage for 3 years. He does have a £130 appearance fee so if he does push through to be a starter, he will be on around £170 a week (or £300 for double game weeks which we have quite a lot of) but that is middle of the road for wages at the club now.

Abderrahmane Chenine – Right Wing – On loan from Stoke

With Mills in the last year of his contract and being a first-choice option for the past 4 years, I felt that he has hit a ceiling where he can still be a good option for us but not as a reliable first-choice winger. Chenine comes in from Stoke with excellent first touch, crossing and work rate and he is streaks ahead of Mills. A huge upgrade in this position.

Dan Cotterill – Right Wing – On loan from Walsall

A loan player similar to the Sandiford deal, I brought in Cotterill as a backup to Mills before I found Chenine available for loan too. Walsall‘s manager will not be happy that he will not get a lot of game time so expect him to not be with us towards the second half of the season.

Alex Hutchinson – Striker – £7.25k from Matlock

Our final signing is our big money signing, breaking the bank to splash £7.25k on a player with great finishing, determination and a driven personality. Bonnington wasn’t too happy with me signing a player to replace him but ideally, we would play our three strikers in a rotation with whoever is in form. I am hoping this will be a smart transfer and help push us towards the top of the league.

Season Preview

Before our transfers, we were predicted to finish 20th at 50-1. Compared to the last few seasons where we’ve been predicted to get relegated and been massively safe, I am hoping that being predicted further up will lead to us going a step further and really battling for promotion.

Friendlies

I will be honest, the only friendlies game I took charge of was the only one that we didn’t win. We have a new affiliation with Rotherham, meaning our Mansfield link was terminated but the Rotherham deal is better for us and will hopefully provide better players going forward. The two matches against Dulwich Hamlet and Solihull Moors were good wins as they are teams in our league.

October

We love a late goal! After last season where we conceded loads of late-minute equalisers, we start getting revenge and score a lot of late goals. Not all of them were winners but every game apart from Southend had a last-minute goal scored. The first game against Woking was a very strong start although Hutchinson got injured for 10 days. We were lucky against Newport where two injury-time winners saw us beat the team with 10 men. A solid win against Barnet was good but Crabb picked up an injury for a week. The FA Cup Qualifying Round was a really tough draw against our playoff semifinal rivals from last season, Ebbsfleet. They were a man down in the 7th minute, we hit the bar, had a goal disallowed but we finally scored a last-minute winner. In the Dagenham and Redbridge game, Hutchinson and Crabb really shone and we put ourselves in a very good position in the league.

We were offered 3 job interviews from League 1 sides – Salford, Crewe and Shrewsbury. I rejected them all obviously because we are Sheffield ‘Til I Die!

November

Not a great start to the month. Oldham were down in 22nd place and we got completely played off the pitch. Not what we needed going into the FA Cup against last year’s league winners, Swindon. We drew 1-1 after they scored first but went down to 10 men in the last 10 minutes. The Eastleigh game was another frustrating one, we had two goals disallowed in the first half and they had scored despite us dominating the game. To make matters worse, we lost both of our strikers – Crabb was out for 2 weeks, and Bonnington for a week. Chenine decides it is a great time to go on international duty as well. Djurovic had a very mixed game against Stevenage, scoring a goal but also was at fault for their first goal. Hutchinson was not firing on target but found the net in the 54th minute before they had a player run half the pitch and score to level the game. The replay against Swindon was a tense game – Djurovic put us ahead with a penalty before they score with their only shot on target. Extra time is fairly dull until the 122nd minute when their defender scores an own goal to put us through to Round 2. Two wins in the league against teams in the relegation zone wrap see us end the month a lot better than we started it and the board gave us a new 2-year contract!

December

20th place Solihull Moors saw us lose again, Carragher came in for Walker who had picked up too many yellow cards. Both goals were Carragher‘s fault and both teams had a goal disallowed. We turn things around against Barrow in the FA Cup with a really boring game. I can promise that the 3rd round will not be boring, with us playing at home against Arsenal! Our first time into the 3rd round and it’s against a top 6 Premier League team! I wish it was at Arsenal‘s ground because we would get a lot of money in gate receipts so my aim is to get a draw, probably won’t happen. 3 league wins follow with Brooks scoring 4 goals and he has really turned up in recent games. We rotated the team massively for the Spennymoor FA Trophy game and we ended up losing. It’s a shame but the league is more important. Back-to-back 1-0 wins see us win 5 games in a row and they were actually quite boring games. Savage‘s goal against Ebbsfleet was a wonderful strike but it was our only shot on target all game.

League Table

We are in 4th, securely in the playoff positions. However, we do have games in hand over teams around us. If we win all of our games in hand, we would go level on points with Southend. I am a bit annoyed by the teams that we have dropped points against: Oldham, Solihull Moors, Eastleigh, Stevenage and Southend. Other than Southend, all the other teams are 15th or lower in the league. We have been getting good results against teams around us but we are dropping points against teams that we should be beating. If it wasn’t for those defeats, we would be in a much stronger position with games in hand.

Player Performance

There are some players here that have really impressed me: Djurovic has played really well, Brooks has surprised me with the number of goals he has scored and is currently our 2nd highest scorer and Crabb has turned provider with 8 assists. I am disappointed with Stephenson who despite playing more games than anyone else is quite low down on the average rating list. I might look to tweak his role to get him more involved somehow.

Manager Performance and Season Objectives

We are doing well as a manager, despite the defeat concerning the board, they are still giving us an A+! They never have high expectations of us so any form of success to them is us overachieving and makes them happy.

Speaking of making the board happy, we have failed one of our objectives but thankfully it is just a preferred one. They are delighted with our league form and pleased we have reached the 3rd round when they only wanted us to make the 1st round.

That is where I am going to leave the update, I am eager to get into the cup game against Arsenal! If there is anything that you would like to know about the save, you can tweet me (@FMClub_Pioneers) or leave a comment below.

Stay safe,

FM Club of Pioneers

Sheffield FC – The World’s First – Season 5 Episode 2

Hello and welcome back to the page! In the last blog, we left things with my Sheffield FC side narrowly in the playoff spots at the start of January but with a lot of games left to play. Could we hang on to get promoted or would we miss out again? Let’s get straight into looking at how the rest of the season went.

January

Goals were hard to come by at the start of the month – our only goal in the first 3 games came from a Gaspar penalty, and then Crabb scored late to give us the 3 points against Dover. We rotated our side against Chorley in the FA Trophy, with their keeper being the hero and saving 3 of our penalties! This clearly kicked the team into gear because we scored 7 in the next two games, with Mills getting 4 of them! Unfortunately, Mills fractured his leg against Southend and was out for 4-5 months…

February

Our start without Mills was good, two clean sheets and Crabb has been in great form, scoring all 4 goals. The Grimsby game was hard to watch, mainly because we were in our white away kit whilst they played in black and white, a really tough kit clash! We turned things around with a 4-0 win over Yeovil, but like the last game where we scored 4 goals, a winger got injured. This time, Stephenson would be missing for a month. The Swindon match was 1st vs 2nd and we only had 2 shots on target so a 2-2 draw is more than we deserved. The penalty against York was brilliant – off the underside of the bar from Walker. Crabb rightfully won Player of the Month for scoring 7 goals in 6 games.

March

Halifax were down in 22nd when we played them, and they went 1-0 up after just 27 seconds. I thought we were in trouble but Crabb pulled us out of a hole before getting injured and being out for a month as well. With 3 of our main attacking players out, the rest of the month was to be expected. A lucky win against Oldham in which Fernandez got sent off late, meaning he misses the next two games, as does our other centreback Holzman after he picked up his 10th yellow card. So that is 5 first-team players who are unavailable for us. We lose both games without the defenders, although Crawley‘s goals all came after the 87th minute. The Boston game was boring and the Solihull Moors game was a little uneventful, even if Hayball finally scored a goal for the club. This winless run of 4 games saw us drop down the league but we still remained in a playoff position.

April

In April, we played 5 games against 5 relegation candidates so it should have been straightforward for us. Crabb scored a goal on his return to the side to double our lead against Maidstone before half time but it was Marschall in goal who we were relying on to keep the 3 points. It was his mistakes, however, that cost us against Eastleigh in a dreadful performance from us. Speaking of dreadful, our Youth Intake wasn’t anything to write home about. Harrogate was a good test for us and we left it late. Hall scored a wonderful equaliser with 10 minutes to go before hitting the bar in the 92nd minute, only for Walker to be there to slot the rebound into an empty net. We relied on Hall to get us back into the game against Wealdstone before Crabb finished the month with a wonderful chip to win an otherwise boring match against Barnet. The battle for the playoffs was still tight and could be anywhere with 3 games left of the league.

May

May is always a weird month in this database, with only 3 games being played but we had about 10 days between each of them. The match against Woking saw us get 6 points ahead of the final playoff spot so we knew only needed a point to guarantee it. We hit the bar twice before Crabb scored against Ebbsfleet and then they had a player sent off to make the game easier for us to control. Crabb sealed the game off with his 20th goal of the season. The final day saw us play Dover in a game that was closer than the scoreline suggests. Savage scored a freekick and then they score a penalty. Soule comes on and scores in what is probably his last game for the club. They scored an absolute screamer of a goal to equalise but it was disallowed because a player in front of the keeper was offside – very unfortunate. Walker scored very late with a penalty of our own.

League Table

Wow! Thanks to our final 3 games, we were able to finish 2nd, meaning we go straight into the playoff semifinals. Annoyingly, Swindon never ran away with the league and finished 5 points ahead of us so if we had picked up a couple of wins instead of draws or losses, we could have been in for a shot at the title.

Playoff Semifinal

After the quarterfinals were played, we found out we were up against Ebbsfleet, whilst Crawley played Bromley. We had just beaten Ebbsfleet 3-0 so I was semi-confident going into this match. The only issue was that Coates at right-back was suspended, and I had agreed to sell Patterson on the 9th of June, a couple of days before the match. I didn’t think that we would be playing the playoffs so late! Holzman had to cover at right back which he can do, and he also extended his loan for another season before the match.

He was to play an important role in the match as well, giving away an early penalty which Hardy scored. Hardy doubled their lead before half time and I thought we had no chance of turning it around. I got angry with the players for the first time and it had an impact. Stephenson scored straightaway after the break and Gaspar put us level! The last 5 minutes saw Fernandez get injured and that was his season done. Extra time – nothing happens, so on to penalties. Hardy, who scored a penalty in the first half, steps up and fires wide! I then panick for the rest of the shootout but it is all out of my control. Every penalty is scored and we go through to the biggest game of the series so far – the National League Playoff Final!

Playoff Final

We go up against Bromley, a team that had beaten us twice this season, both times by a single goal. We had beaten them 7-1 last season so I was optimistic. Fernandez would miss out due to an injury in the semifinal but we had Coates back at right-back. Mills, who made the team in the last few games of the season after his long injury, went close with a one-on-one that he put narrowly wide. Just after halftime, they scored an absolute worldie of a goal from Mukendi and we couldn’t recover. The rest of the game just went by without any highlights despite starting to push more. We lose in the final. The one positive is that almost 40,000 people turned up to watch us at Wembley and we received nearly £300k in gate receipts, putting our balance up to £175k, more than double we’ve ever had all save game. Every cloud…

End of Season Review

Player Stats

I was really impressed by Crabb’s performance this season – his 20 goals put him miles ahead of the rest of the team and was 2nd in the league for goals. I know that Rochdale want us to pay a lot of his wages for next season so he may not be back with us, we will have to see. Borkovic and Hayball were a little bit disappointing, neither of them really delivered on the goals or assists that I expected them to get when they came in. Patterson had already left but he didn’t play much with Coates starting 39 games. The top three average ratings are from our top 3 players, Fernandez, Savage and Stephenson and hopefully I can add some more quality players in to push us further next season.

Other News

Despite having a takeover at the start of the season, rumours were spiralling that a new consortium were interested. However, the bid never materialised and we can continue to make signings as we would have been put under an embargo if any takeover did happen.

Our coaching course was completed and after taking a while for the board to approve my request to start it, they accepted my request for the next one straight away. I am guessing that they trust me more now after I have rejected a lot of bigger clubs. It will be my Continental B License that should come through in November!

Looking towards next season, I will be aiming for the playoffs again, despite the players thinking they will struggle to avoid relegation. The board have not given me my budgets for next season but we will have some areas to look at replacing. Hall will be leaving the club unless he takes a pay cut as I can’t continue to give him more money. The two Remi’s, Savage and Walker, who are on peanuts compared to the rest of the squad, will also probably move on due to not being good enough to be on the same amount as the rest of the squad. Lowey will also leave at the end of his contract so we will be definitely looking for a new left-back.

I hit continue once after writing all this blog and found out a lot of things that will impact the save going forward next season and beyond.

Budgets

Our new wage budget is now double what it was last season so we can now offer players bigger contracts to come here. It is worth mentioning that Fernandez and Savage have match highest earner clauses in their contracts so we can’t go too silly with it, but it is big news for us! It will still be close to the worst salary in the league but it means there won’t be such a big jump.

New Stadium

After years of renting stadiums, we are finally building our own! We will be massively in debt but this has all come about due to the playoff final money. If we get promoted, it will need to be expanded and it could put us in a lot of debt with about £120k being paid back each season. Named after Matt Roney, the first player I got rid of when I first joined the club… sorry Matt!

I need to get on and scout some players for the next season, hopefully, we will make it 3rd time lucky and be able to get out of this really tricky league. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post, there will be the final Club of Pioneers IRL post out in the not-too-distant future. As usual, you can check me out on Twitter (@FMClub_Pioneers), I am going to try and be more active on there!

Stay safe,

FM Club of Pioneers

Sheffield FC – The World’s First – Season 5 Episode 1

Welcome back to the Sheffield FC save. We are about to embark on Season 5, the second season in the Vanarama National League. If you want to see how the last season went, you can read about it here.

Important News

About 3 clicks after the last blog, I got an email saying that the chairman was retiring. At first, I was worried about what it would do to us in pre-season as the board placed a transfer embargo on us. Thankfully, it didn’t last too long before the new chairman took over, wiped our debt and gave us a positive bank balance for the first time in a long time. The downside is that our longstanding tie with Sheffield Wednesday has been severed but hopefully in the future, we can look to reinstate it or get a better affiliate alongside Mansfield.

Transfers In

We needed to add quality in depth for our squad this season. Last season, we were relying too much on the same starters and it was having a negative impact on the end of our season with players getting too tired after every game and not enough quality to rotate for them.

Louie Holzman – On loan from Reading

Holzman has come in as a cheap but quality option at centreback to partner Fernandez. He can also play right back but I see his strengths are more suited to being in the centre of the pitch, with excellent tackling and positioning.

Hayden Cann – On loan from Lincoln

Another loan option, Cann can play at the back or in midfield and will be a good squad player for both of these positions. When you only have 5 spaces on the bench, having a player for multiple positions can really help with options.

Spencer Hayball – On loan from Cambridge

A more attack-minded midfield player, Hayball can offer us an outlet with some great passing, decision making and off-the-ball attributes. His aggression is a little on the high side and he likes to argue with officials but he has a lot of positives to his game, including the fact that he is two-footed.

Chris Crabb – On loan from Rochdale

I felt that we needed more options in the striker position instead of relying on Bonnington for all the goals, especially after he slowed down in scoring last season. Crabb is the player I turned to. He possesses some great mental attributes for a 19-year-old as well as first touch and technique that should make him a strong option for our side.

Marko Borkovic – On loan from Derby

Borkovic is the last of our loan players, and he is a pacy winger who can put a decent cross into the box. He will be rotating with Mills but can also play on the left if we need him to. I was looking for a player who could play on both for depth and he has a fairly strong left foot.

Dylan Stephenson – Free Transfer from Newcastle

The big money signing of the season. I was looking at getting in a quality midfielder and nearly signed one who snubbed us to go to Bolton. After that, Stephenson popped up on my radar and I decided that he would add the quality that we needed on the left wing, having relied on Luke Hall for the past 4 seasons.

Jamie Soule – Free Transfer from West Brom

Although he is only a two-star player, his technical attributes stand out to me as a player who could possess a bit of quality for us when our other two strikers need a rest. Previous West Brom academy player and slightly older than our other signings, he gives us a lot of rotation options.

Connor Kirby – Free Transfer from Harrogate

I know what you’re thinking, we’ve signed Ferris Bueller! Kirby comes in just as a backup player, think O’Brien-Brady from previous seasons, a good squad player but doesn’t tear the pitch up at this level.

James Wright – Free Transfer from Bootle/Villa Academy/City Academy

A backup goalkeeper who will probably not get any game time, Wright joins us on a non-contract, the only downside is that we won’t get a sell-on fee if he reaches his potential. That isn’t really an issue though because he won’t reach it as long as he is playing in our reserves.

Transfers Out

Adam Long left to join Chester for 10k, Crichlow (Nuneaton Boro) and Knight (Brackley) left on loan – couldn’t sell them. Ben Worman went to Kingstonian for £11.25k rising to £16.25k and he is doing very well for them. Donay O’Brien-Brady was released. It was important for us to get money for players but also get players away who were on high wages. Crichlow leaving on loan has meant we were able to sign Stephenson.

Formation

I have decided to go back to the old formation. Changing it up last season allowed us to take our foot off the gas when going forward but I think if we want to have a chance of promotion or the playoffs this season, we need to go back to what worked for our consecutive promotions. Savage will move out to left back with the inclusion of Holzmann at centreback.

Media Predictions

The media do not back us again! Last season we finished 9th, just 3 points outside the playoffs but the media think that we will struggle to stay up. I look forward to proving them wrong.

Friendlies

With preseason starting late again because of how the database works with the National League starting in October for some reason, we had all our players in and signed before our friendlies so it was an opportunity to get to know the players and rotate around. It was also an opportunity to test ourselves against our league opponents as they are the only teams who don’t have any league commitments and will actually agree to friendlies.

October

We start off the year with mixed results. Chesterfield were in the playoffs last season so a 2-2 draw against them wasn’t too bad. Stephenson scores his first goal for us in a win against Southend and he got his second in another 2-2 draw to Hartlepool. Grimsby was always going to be a tricky game as they almost won the league last year if it hadn’t been for us beating them on the final day of the season. We beat St Albans in the FA Cup with a rotated side. The final game against Yeovil was disappointing, we were two goals up with 10 minutes to go and we ended up drawing 2-2 from two balls over the top. I want to say this was a one off but last minute goals was theme in November too. Bonnington became the joint all-time top goal scorer in the league at Sheffield FC.

November

Swindon were top when we played them and Crabbe scored a screamer of a goal. Our keeper then makes a howler in the 93rd minute and they get a draw. We then lose to Gateshead after they get a last minute penalty. In our 7 league games so far, we have conceded 9 goals, 6 in the last 15 minutes. In the FA Cup we go up against Woking. Fernandez gets a red card so we are struggling but holding on until the final minute when they go 1-0 up, but as you can see, we got an equaliser of our own in the 96th minute! Finally! The replay wasn’t in our favour as Woking scored 2 in 4 minutes to go ahead. Crabbe scored a brace in our first win of the month again in the 1-1 draw to Oldham who were relegated last season. Crawley were another relegated side but we beat them 2-0 and got our first back to back wins by beating York, just. Walker won Goal of the Month for his goal. The final game was against Bromley in 19th, and we lost with another penalty conceded by Savage who has given away a few this season in his new position.

December

We give away another penalty against Boston but thankfully they put it wide. Another poor game against Solihull Moors saw us lose and the Maidstone game was so boring that there were no highlights for the entire match. We were winless in 4 and goalless in 3, we needed some big results to end the year, and we got some. Bonnington finally scored the one goal he needed to become the top goalscorer at the club in the win against Eastleigh. Cann becomes our best rotation player in the FA Trophy match against Bury Town with a goal and an assist. I am looking at a defender from Bury Town so it was nice to be able to scout them at the same time. We end the month with a nervy win against Harrogate and a comfortable win against Wealdstone – the first properly dominant display that we’ve shown all season.

Mid-Season Table

We have the same amount of points as this time last season. However, although we are in the playoff positions right now, I will point out that they are only 3 points between us in 6th and Bromley in 12th, and only 11 points clear of the relegation zone. With the season starting later, we are not half way in the season just yet, but after 18 games, we have only lost 4 but have drawn a lot of games that should have been wins.

Data

I thought I would have a look at the overall team stats in the league as I noticed that we were keeping possession really well this season. I was shocked to see that we were top of a few different categories. I’ve put the ones that we are top or high up in as a slideshow above.

Other News

Contracts – we have some big players out of contract at the end of the season. Charlie Savage, who is our best midfielder, as well as Luke Hall, Remi Walker, Remi Savage and Daniel Lowey have all been in the team for a few years now. This might be the last season for Hall and Lowey but the others I really want to keep. We were able to tie Bonnington, Fernandez and Marschall down to 3-year contracts so they will be with us until 2028, whether we look to sell them if we go up or keep them around as an excellent core to our team. I will hopefully be offering both Savages a contract when I have the money to do so, which might be too late!

That is where I am going to leave it for this update. It has been a while since I played the save, having screenshotted everything I needed before I went on holiday, with the intention of writing the blog when I was away. That never happened so I have some catching up to do! Follow me on Twitter (@FMClub_Pioneers) for some updates too as I will be posting on there a bit more when I play.

See you soon and stay safe!

FM Club of Pioneers

Club of Pioneers – In Real Life – Part 3

Welcome back to the page! Here is part 3 of Club of Pioneers – In Real Life, a look at how some of the oldest clubs in the world are doing in real life as opposed to Football Manager. This episode looks at clubs outside of Europe, starting with South America.

Albion FC

Albion FC are a club based in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, and before 2017, they had spent several decades in the 3rd tier of Uruguay. Then, in 2017, they got promoted to the second division. They managed to stay in the league and even managed to get promoted in 2021, the first time in 113 years that they have been promoted to the top flight in Uruguay.

So far in the new season, they have not done great but that is to be expected from a newly promoted club, but it is very close between 12th and 16th. Also, the rules in Uruguay are very weird, with the league being split into two different league tables where the winners of each league play each other for the title. Relegation is decided by taking an average points per game across the past two seasons. Albion at the moment are in 14th although they have the scenario of not having last seasons points as a newly promoted side. It is very confusing for people who don’t understand South American football (myself included) so I will leave a link here to the Wikipedia page for the 2022 season.

Santiago Wanderers

From one team who are having a fairly successful time in their league to one that are struggling a little. Santiago Wanderers were unfortunately relegated from the Chilean Premier League, finishing 11 points behind their closest competitors and 16 points away from safety. They scored the fewest goals and conceded the most in the league which is where their issues were for the season. Hopefully, they can bounce back straight away.

In the Chilean League 2, Santiago are struggling once more and it is the same issue as last season – not good enough defensively. They are just over halfway through the season so they will have a chance to improve before the end of the season but they need to pull away from the teams beneath them quickly. Only 5 points separate 8th and 17th!

ATK Mohun Bagan

ATK Mohun Bagan are a newly merged club, with Mohun Bagan merging with ATK FC in 2020 for the formation of the ISL. and from what I can tell from Twitter, fans are not happy. Despite this, on the pitch they have performed well, finishing 3rd in the Indian Super League. They lost in the playoffs of the ISL 3-2 over two legs vs Hyderabad but they are in a good position to succeed. Winning the league is made harder by the fact you have to win a playoff but being in the top 4 will give them confidence going forward.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong FC were relegated in 2017 and achieved promotion in 2020/21. They actually won promotion several times in their history but have turned it down due to having to field a professional side in the Hong Kong Premier League. Their return to the top flight saw the season get cancelled after 4 games due to Omicron in January 2022. They a known as a yo-yo club, but they have spent most of the past 20 years in the second division in Hong Kong. With the league being cancelled, they will be looking to have a better start next season as their poor start this year left much improvement.

Yokohama

Yokohama are an amateur club that doesn’t appear to play in any league. They are a community club and sports complex which hosts football, basketball, rugby, cricket, tennis, squash, swimming, etc. Unfortunately, that is all I could find on them.

North Shore United

The footballing pyramid in New Zealand is quite confusing, with the teams in the top flight being split into 3 leagues and then the top teams from each league go into a championship league where they play each other for the title. North Shore United finished bottom of their league meaning they get relegated into the 2nd tier although this is called the 3rd tier because the separate leagues are called the 2nd tier and then the Championship league is the 1st tier. It has taken me about half an hour to get my head around it, safe to say I may leave this very late on as the database could be complicated!

Savages FC Pietermaritzburg

If anyone has any information on Savages FC Pietermaritzburg, please let me know! I cannot find anything on them other than they were founded by English immigrants to South Africa and originally played in an all-black kit. I looked through 166 different South African regional and amateur league tables and could not see them anywhere. Any help would be greatly appreciated, although it is a very niche request!

That is where I am going to leave this blog post. There will be one more IRL blog post coming up where we finish off with the teams in Eastern Europe and some more obscure leagues but I think I will be able to find most of the information for the clubs.

As always, you can find me on Twitter (@FMClub_Pioneers).

Stay safe,

FM Club of Pioneers

Club of Pioneers – In Real Life – Part 2

Hello and welcome back to Part 2 of Club of Pioneers – In Real Life, a series where we look at how the teams in the Club of Pioneers are doing in their countries. Last blog, we looked at teams based in the UK and Iberia (Spain and Portugal) – you can check it out here. In this post, we are going to be looking at teams in Western Europe as well as Norway.

Genoa

The “biggest” club on the list for this blog, Genoa are the oldest club in Italy. They have found themselves becoming a bit of a yo-yo club in Italy, having spent 55 years in Serie A and 34 in Serie B over the course of their history. They did also spend 2 seasons in Serie C, getting out both times. The latter of their spells in Serie C was for match-fixing so a little blot on their record, but Italian football has never been squeaky clean. The 2021-22 season saw them have a tricky time in Serie A, finishing 19th and getting relegated to Serie B. They have experience of getting promoted from Serie B, but it could be a challenge with some strong teams in the league this season.

FC St. Gallen

FC St. Gallen are the oldest club in Switzerland, competing in their country’s top flight. They have had fairly little success, having won the Swiss Super League twice and the Swiss Cup once. In the past decade, they have competed in the Europa League group stage once and twice losing in the qualifying rounds. They have also unfortunately been relegated twice, in 2008 and 2011, bouncing back by winning the Challenge League both times. Recent history has seen them becoming the “nearly” team – finishing 2nd in the league in 2020 and runners up in the Swiss Cup in both 2021 and 2022. This past season they also missed out on European qualification by one position and finished 5th. Going into this new season, they have already played 3 games, winning two and drawing one, despite having a player sent off in both of their 2-0 wins. They should be looking to push for one of the four European spots in the league and maybe even end their streak of losing in the cup final.

Koninklijke HFC

Koninklijke HFC was founded by 14-year-old Pim Mulier, who originally formed it as a rugby club before becoming a football team after four years. They have won three unofficial national titles before the Dutch league was officially established, all of these came in the 1890s. They currently play in the Tweede Divisie, a league that was disbanded in 1971 before being reformed in 2016. It is the 3rd tier of Dutch football, the highest amateur league. They finished 3rd in the previous season, although due to the league above being professional, there is no promotion to the 2nd tier unless they are invited. There are some Football Manager Databases for the lower league in the Netherlands although I do not know if they add promotions and relegations – I will have to find a solution for that when we get to it.

Kjøbenhavns Boldklub

This one is a bit of a weird one. Kjøbenhavns Boldklub are still a club despite being merged with another club. They merged with Boldklub 1903 (a different club in Copenhagen) to form FC Copenhagen, who everyone has probably heard of from their regular appearance in European tournaments. Kjøbenhavns Boldklub are still a club because they are technically FC Copenhagen’s reserve and youth team. Due to this, they don’t seem to be playing in any league, so instead of focusing on their season, I will talk about their history. They have won the Danish championship 15 times, a current record, although FC Copenhagen are on 14. Michael Laudrup – one of Denmark’s greatest players played for them between 1980 to 1982, and the GOAT, Lord Bendtner was a youth player at the club between 2002 and 2004. As for Football Manager, for ease, I might just have to manage FC Copenhagen but I could make it interesting by doing a homegrown challenge, so the players are all technically from Kjøbenhavns Boldklub. Let me know what you think.

BFC Germania 1888

The second club on this list to be founded by a teenager – 17 -year-old Paul Jestram, his brothers and schoolmates. As I mentioned on the introduction blog a while ago, there were other clubs in Germany that are older (1860 Munich, Ulm 1846 and VfL Bochum) but these clubs all formed as clubs for other sports and took up football after the creation of Germania. The club are in the Kreisliga Berlin B Staffel 6, which I believe is the 10th tier of Germany. They were a founding member of the German FA but as the game grew in Germany, they found themselves becoming a smaller team and were out of the top flight before the start of World War I. The most recent season saw them finish midtable, and I am quite impressed with the level of information available for a tier 10 league in another country. I guess it is the same in the UK but I didn’t expect it to be the same in other countries.

Antwerp

The oldest team in Belgium, Antwerp, had a fairly decent season last year. They finished 4th in a very competitive Belgium league this season with the unexpected strength of Royale Union SG alongside the usual strong teams of Club Brugge and Anderlecht. Their 4th place finish was enough to secure a spot in the Europa Conference League, they beat Drita in and are 3-1 up in the first leg against Lillestrøm, setting up a final qualifying round probably against İstanbul Başakşehir. Their squad is full of recognisable names: Vincent Janssen, Toby Alderweireld, Radja Nainggolan and Victor Fischer. A good run in Europe will hopefully provide them with a financial boost to compete domestically.

Odds Ballklubb

The final team in this blog is Odds Ballklubb in Norway. Their league runs from May until November so at the moment, they are halfway through their season. In 2021, they finished 13th out of 16 and currently after 17 games, they are 10th, although there is only 7 points between 6th and 14th. They have never won a league title and only won the Norwegian Cup once since 1931. I have managed Odd on a personal FM save and they were a lot of fun to manage, it is a shame to see them struggle in real life.

That is it for this blog, we have covered 7 teams across Europe and looked at their previous season, some history and some thoughts about their future. Next blog will focus on outside of Europe, with a couple of teams in South America and Asia before the final update featuring teams from Eastern Europe. I hope you enjoyed learning something about these clubs and maybe thinking about doing an FM save with them in the future – I certainly will be! You can find me on Twitter (@FMClub_Pioneers).

Keep safe and thank you for reading!

FM Club of Pioneers

Sheffield FC – The World’s First – Season 4 Episode 2

Hello! As usual, it has been quite a while since the previous save update so if you can’t remember what happened (I am struggling at this stage too, to be honest!), you can find it HERE! Also, you can check out another blog post I did focusing on some teams in the Club of Pioneers and how they are doing in real life. Another one of those will be coming shortly so watch this space!

For those who don’t wish to read back through the previous blog, Sheffield FC were hanging on in the last playoff spot, level on points with Gateshead beneath them. Could we hang on to fight for the playoffs?

Transfers

We only brought in one player in the latter half of the season due to Andy Morgan being recalled by Oldham. Troy Smikle-James, on loan from Lincoln, didn’t play many games and was only brought in as a squad player.

January

A good month to start off the new year. Some very tricky matches with some of the best in the division and we managed to come away with 8 points out of a possible 12. Unfortunately, we lost in the FA Trophy to Macclesfield who are becoming a bit of a thorn in our side. Thankfully they lost in the playoffs at the end of the season meaning we won’t have to play them in the league just yet!

February

The shortest month that felt like the longest! We scrapped some results and to be honest, in the 3 games that we didn’t lose, we did not deserve any points. The players were exhausted, mainly due to the database and the league not starting until October but we are going to have that every season now until we get out of the league so we need to find a way to manage it. I don’t have a strong enough team to rotate players so the core of the team were being played into the ground. I decided to try something new instead of the 4-2-3-1 we had been playing.

New Tactic

The change was to put 3 people in midfield instead of having the attacking midfield starting higher up the pitch. I also played Bonnington as an AF instead of PF to get him as the focal point of the attacks with the two Mezzalas arriving late in the box and providing support to the attack.

March

Well, it is safe to say that it worked, mostly. We picked up some more wins and could have come away with more, but the highlight of the month was beating Bromley 7-1 and I was genuinely surprised because it had been a while since we had played that well. A bump back to reality with a defeat to Fylde ended March.

April

On the face of it, this month looks fairly average, 2 wins, 2 losses and a draw, and the defeats were against two of the strongest sides in the league. However, if you look at the 3 goals we scored in the 5 games, they all came in the final 8 minutes of the game. We were very lucky to come away with 7 points from these games. Both wins saw late winners go in for us and whilst I am delighted to win, we need to step it up a bit more if we are wanting to get out of this strong league.

May

The final 3 games saw us beat two playoff rivals and after the Yeovil game, we had a chance to sneak in if they continued to lose their final games. That didn’t happen but a win against Gateshead would see us guaranteed to finish about them too. The final game of the season was against Grimsby and although we had nothing to play for, Grimsby had everything to play for. They went into the final game level on points with Wrexham so needed to match their result. They were 2-0 up but then received a red card, before both of our goals, and then another red card saw them end the match with 9 men and missing out on promotion as Wrexham win their game.

League Table

The final league table sees us finish 3 points outside of the playoffs and 18 points off the single automatic promotion spot. I’ve said it lots but I’ll say it again – this is going to be a tricky league to get out of. Oldham and Crawley are coming down, and we will still have three of Grimsby, Swindon, Chesterfield and Yeovil who will miss out on promotion.

Stats

Sorted by average rating, here are all the players in the squad. Our top scorer was Bonnington with 16, struggled with the step up this year but is only a few goals away from being the club’s all-time top goalscorer. Second was Mills, followed by McIntyre. It was the core of the team who topped the average rating table, with Fernandez and both of the Savages near the top. Marschall was solid in goal for us and is looking like a quality keeper in this league.

End of Season Review

Youth Intake

Rubbish Youth Intake yet again. Might get rid of this section for future blogs until we get a good player through the academy.

Finances

We have made a loss this season, which isn’t great but at least we aren’t losing as much as in previous seasons. The board are disappointed that we are struggling to repair the club’s financial damage but we are still achieving an A- from them overall. The only way I can see this going down is by selling some players, but I don’t think we will be able to get replacements of the same quality. We are within our wage budget but I think we will need to think about how to go forward, not risk splashing out on players that will get us promoted but look for undervalued players or good loan players. The players we have been getting on loan, on the whole, have been squad players, we need to get a couple of starters that we can rely on getting us up divisions without paying their wages. Having the affiliate with Mansfield should help as well.

Due to the league starting late, it also finishes late so I have to end the blog here without knowing who gets promoted in the playoffs but I need to start looking for players that I can get at the end of their contracts before other teams swoop in for them. I will update you on the winners next time.

Thank you for reading this blog post, let me know what you think of our chances of getting promotion or getting out of the financial pickle we find ourselves in. As always, you can find me on Twitter (@FMClub_Pioneers) although this might be getting a rebrand over the summer so watch out for that!

Stay safe,

FM Club of Pioneers