Football Manager Quest 2014

Written by G. James-Weir

Nope, not a typo in the title there, I’m just a cheap, cheap bastard and didn’t want to slap £30 down for this years iteration so I threw a whopping £1.49 at a copy of FM 2014 on eBay. Around this time every year I get a massive urge to play FM again – The end of the season talk, those nervy play-off finals, relegation battles and cup finals all make me remember those times of triumph and crushing defeat of past games. Usually I ignore the urge and eventually it subsides and I go about my life once more, but this time I’ve caved. Obviously having a child, a small dog, another child on the way and a crippling addiction to Bloodborne isn’t enough for me…apparently I need another time-sink.

I’ve not really got lost in a Football Manager game since my previously talked about 2008 marathon game with my good friend Nick and I think the amount of solid time played in that game killed FM for me a bit, so in order to try and keep at it this time, I figured I’d write a semi-regular blog until I get bored or win everything and retire happily.

With the game got, time to decide on exactly what I would be doing in it. See for me, FM isn’t about playing as Man City, buying all the best players and steam rolling my way to Champions League victory, no sir. I need more. I need a narrative.

It was time to resurrect my old alter-ego, Gavinio Weirie. Promising young English-Italian player who had to retire early due to an horrific injury. Wanting to prove himself as a manager he’s starting at the bottom, The (as it was) Skrill North. My other caveats in creating this narrative is that I have to play as a team local to me. Used to be my go to was Hinckley United, but since they’re no longer a team I’d have to go elsewhere. Solihull Moors were recommended to me by some work friends and they seem a perfect option: local-ish, small ground, no money and mid-table aspirations. Choice made.

So before I get into my first season, I need to explain a few rules I always apply to myself when playing FM:

  • Play as a manager, not a team. – seems obvious, but it means if I get sacked, I have to look for another job, even if it means months out of work.
  • NO RELOADING – People who do this sicken me. Reloading after loosing a play-off or cup final is cheating, pure and simple. I want that heartbreak of a near win, keeps the fire going.*
  • No use of any websites to find ‘wonder kids’.*

*I know there’s no way of me proving these, you’ll just have to trust me.

THE FIRST SEASON – (Well, up till Christmas as I’ve not played it since)

The first job when taking charge of any team is picking through the players, hull out the trash and try to find any gems, Solihull Moors…are not very good. A few decent players for this level but no-one that I could build a team around. Something I always like to do is dig through the under 18’s squad and find a promising kid to blood and mould into my own; this time it’s a striker by the name of Dior Angus (here he is IRL scoring a belting free kick: https://youtu.be/YnAreVgB8Xo?t=1m42s). His physical stats are fantastic, fast, strong (ish) but his overall technical skill isn’t great. Figure I’ll throw him in as a sub on a few games and maybe get an older player to mentor him, see if he improves.

2015-05-14_00003

Other than Dior, the team is lacking as is my transfer budget (big fat £0). Time to eye up some free transfers and go begging for a Parent club with The Board.  The new meeting system in 2014 (this may not be all that new…but like I say, been out the game a while) is great. Looking a bit like an instant messenger service, you choose to ask your board about a topic and in which way to do it: Calm, assertive, aggressive or passionate and they can respond in kind. Since I’d been at the club a matter of hours, I figured I’d take the ‘calm’ approach…

…and they flat out refused. Clearly the idea of being PAID MONEY to take BETTER PLAYERS from BETTER CLUBS for ABSOLUTELY NO CHARGE AT ALL doesn’t appeal to them. Idiots. But I’ve not been here long enough to kick up a fuss about it…I’ll ask again another day. Until then, time to hit the free transfers.

Free transfers are great, you can normally grab a few players that have been either ignored by a bigger club or dissatisfied with their current club for nothing (as the title implies). I say normally, because this time the wage budget I’ve been given is tighter than David Bowie’s trousers in Labyrinth. Out of the 3 new signings, Moses Garvey stands out as a beacon of hope. From Rugby Town, he’s got low stats but the important ones are just on the right side of ‘ok, he might do a job’. Only time will tell.

Time to test the team in some pre-season friendlies. I used to have a theory/superstition about these: If you have a bad pre-season, it usually works out that you’ll have a good season, flip it for a Good pre-season. And oh boy, do I hope that’s right. I won the first game, but lost the next 5 pretty heavily. I kept my team talks positive throughout, telling the boys ‘it’s less about the result and more about the performance’ … I say, with a voice in my head screaming at them for being useless wastes of space…

It’s a time to sort out tactics too – I’ve gone for a standard 4-4-2 formation with a focus on containing. Seems to result in me having a decent amount of possession, so hopefully once my team settles, it will result in goals. My coach got all pissy about only training in one formation, so I’ve added 5-3-2 as a fallback. I’ll probably play this in away games for a more cautious, defence heavy approach. So despite the losses, pre-season training seems to be going well. Time for the season to start.

…and it starts well. A fairly non-eventful 1-0 victory and a few draws after, positive comments all round from the press about my players and the board seem to be pretty happy too (though, they’re understandably pissed about the wages being £800 a week over budget…woops). The run of good form continues until I hit the FA Cup and come across another one of my favorite ‘features’ from FM. Any team that’s not ‘in’ the game (as in they don’t play in any of the leagues featured) are made up with random stats for the players. It’s all fairly realistically done, the players are normally low stats, but 90% of the time I come across one of these teams, I lose. It’s like there’s a bug in the database that makes these low level teams way better than they should be. I got ruined 5-2 agasint Salford City who’s players really shouldn’t have managed to touch me.

Of course…it could be that I’m a little bit shit. But no, I’ll blame the game.

The only other thing of note that’s happened so far was slotting 4 past my local rivals Telford, that’ll do nicely in getting the fans on my side.

2015-05-17_00001

Anyway. I’ve ran a bit long on this, so with nothing else of note really happening in the season so far, I’ll leave you with my League standings in January 2015.

2015-05-19_00002A rather slightly under-performing 12th, but there’s no danger yet. 8 wins under my belt and my team being fairly happy with me means there shouldnt be anything to stop me getting the 10th place predicted…but that could change if I grab a player or two in the transfer window.

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