The third consecutive league win. And, with 78 points, it was a historic high among the in-game simulation seasons. Improved financial situation and ever increasing fan base, the game has indeed transitioned into another phase.
The season is also special in its own: it is the first time we win the league consecutively. I am pretty sure this is not yet another random statistical trick to make up things, since that being in the European Championship does seem to have some negative impact to the league performance. Fixture congestion, having to buy more players to avoid people complaining about the lack of squad depth, and having to deal with too many players complaining about playing time as a result, these are all unique challenges to consecutive winners.
And, despite being actually a very shambolic season, we somehow managed to overcome the above-mentioned difficulties.
This is the first season we won both the league and the cup, which is something to remember.
Another season, and financial woes strike back as expected!
The performance was actually pretty good. We ended up at the second place, which was the highest among all seasons where we entered the Champions League. For some reason like fixture congestion, such seasons are always hard. So I guess I should be satisfied.
Going back to the game proved to be fun. I feel I am looking forward to a future FM game as well, perhaps on FM 2023.
Anyways, it is a season with an extremely long streak of games without losing, and a second league win.
More importantly, the financial game plays very differently this time…
There was no update to the game for quite a few months. There were multiple reasons, but mostly because the ongoing real world event had negatively impacted my willingness to continue playing this game. The thought that the save game involves real people who might be completely disgusted with the idea of getting hired by the team I’m controlling, or getting that additional nationality through naturalization, has put me off the game for long.
Later, I thought, perhaps exactly because the real world is full of woes, I should look at the game as a more ideal place. It isn’t reflective of the world, but it is how it should have been. Along this line of thought, then, perhaps, I should just play on.
OK, back to the game.
Many scanned old books come with no table of contents. And Googling how to add tables of contents usually show up less helpful advice such as “buy Acrobat”. To save myself from having to Google this stuff again, it’s time to record it here.
This blog was down for a few days because Ubuntu update screwed the Apache2 PHP mod. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really paying attention.
Season 11 is full of worries. The team is weakened in multiple ways. Financial woes. Unhappy players.
But… it is also the first season I won the premier league.
Victor Hatuka (€1.5M). The deal was to loan him back for a season, which turned to be much worse than I thought. Not only it’s a financial burden, but also his personality changed from Perfectionist to Determined. And AMC is such a crowded position.
Branko Hustic (Free). Yes. That Hustic. His four years at AC Milan was less than successful, but he is still better than everyone else at the position besides Semenov.
Tomas Petras (Free). Felt inadequate because I also had Ovsyannikov.
Matteo di Benedetto (Free). Served as a first-team player.
Nicolas Pohl (Free). Screenshot taken at the end of the season. He was OK as an AMC and OK as an MC, but the pecking order is low for both.
Ivannikov (€450K), Bijlsma (€3.9M) and Kartashov (€1M) because I already have Semenov and Hustic for the position and also potentially Hatuka for the next season, so I do not really need all these backups. They were all sold at discount prices, but I signed them on free transfers in the first place, so no regrets.
For forwards, Osipov (€725K), Galperin (€250K), Larionov (€500K) and Leovac (€475K). Osipov actually produced a few good matches, but he wanted more first team chances which I obviously could not afford. Galperin and Larionov have the potential but not the personality to blend in my squad. Leovac was a sad case, since he was suddenly unhappy about broken promise (about first team chances) near the end of the season, when I really could not afford a morale drop. He was worth at least €3M but obviously I can’t ask for that if he had only two or three months contract left.
Ryzhov was unsettled by Milan’s offer, so sold for a potential €11.5M. However, he would only leave at the end of the season, so I paid another year of salary while largely only using him as a super sub / big match player. All the while he kept improving. Now I feel that perhaps I should have just forced him to stay, since our reputation is quickly improving anyways. But then perhaps I wouldn’t be able to achieve this with unhappy players.
Considering that I also signed Hustic back from Milan, I am pretty sure that Hustic will has a few warning words about being over-ambitious.
Finally, Godfred Donsah to Shandong for €675K.
These sales have left me with very limited options for the central forward, and despite largely retaining the old central midfield pair of Yegorov and Moskvichev, the performance has slipped as well.
I think only Arapov and Andreyushenko are notable this year.
We ended up with 66 points, roughly on par with historical champions.
In the Europa League, we ranked the first in the group stage, and progressed through the first knockout stage only to be defeated in the second.
The Russian Cup drew us and Zenit in an early meeting, so we were knocked out earlier than expected. But losing to the expected champions isn’t really a big deal in my opinion.
All in all, we won the league at the pre-season odds of 19.0. Admittedly that just says if an average bot retries 19 times they would also win once, and there is no evidence that I am better than the average bot, but who cares. I am the player.
Awards and stats
The number one improvement goes to Ryzhov, but he is sold so there is no point looking at him.
Semenov is still a joy to look at though. Just don’t look at the negatives about how he feels he wants to move to bigger places.
The season is a milestone moment. When I finish this long game and look back, I would probably conveniently say “the first decade” and “the second decade”, because it is the 11th year in which we reached the top and broke into the European Championship.
However, in the same season we suffered a lot in terms of squad depth. There are a lot to be done to retain the team strength, let alone improving it.
Football Manager’s schedule generation has been a bit weird: the teams with European competitions often have lots of matches rearranged to make way for the European games. It is not uncommon that a team with European games to have played 4 fewer games than a team without.
For the past few seasons, I qualified for Europa League, and I was affected by this problem. The board often criticized me for the low league position, without taking the schedule into consideration.
This season, however, is the reverse problem: I have been constantly at the top place, because I am the only strong team without European competitions. It was all roses from the club board, but I know that once the season ends they will judge me on the actual ranking, which, again, makes it feel very weird.
Anyway, I maintained pretty good form to near the end of the season. When I had 3 games left, I needed to win the first game against Zenit to win the Russian Cup; win the second game against Zenit to potentially win the league, and, win the last game to secure a place in the European Championship. Unfortunately, I whiffed on all three, so all the way back to Europa League.
Matvichuk was unsettled by Rostov’s interest. I don’t understand why… Rostov plays in the same league and does not have a higher reputation than us. Anyway, I don’t feel like forcing him to stay. Instead I signed Magomed Giraev (€550K). The good thing about him is that he is much more similar to Justiniano and Silva, making rotation much easier.
Then, during the mid-season break, Chevallier who scored 10 goals (7 league and 3 cup) in half a season wanted to go to Espanyol. Again, I let him go, but this time I spent a whopping €5.5M on Yury Ovsyannikov. Unfortunately, there was a rule unknown to me which says that a player can’t be registered for three teams in the same season. As a loanee he already registered for both Dinamo Moscow and Sochi, so he couldn’t play for me in the season at all.
Besides these, I also signed Philipp Max, Florin Andone, Gianluca Sanna (mid-season) and Alexey Kartashov (mid-season) on free transfers. Max was supposed to be a cover for the left back position, but Isaev was good and consistent, so Philipp doesn’t get play time. Andone already has a retirement date set, so he was meant to be a one-year solution to avoid a potential weakness in front. It turned out that we did indeed have a weakness in front and Andone was useful, but not exceptional. Sanna does not get play time because Goreta was so much better and Dorokhov gets all the remaining time. Kartashov was useful, but still hard to get play time because Semenov is becoming a star, and Bijlsma is angry enough that I had to give the remaining time to him.
And finally, I signed the youngster Islam Dolgov (screenshot taken at the end of the season) as another left back option, and he was one of the reasons Max didn’t get to play.
Besides the above-mentioned Matvichuk, Chevallier and Max, Tashaev, Hansen and Gutiérrez also have transfers arranged in the last season. Paulson left on a free transfer. Terekhov and Megamadov started to feel like surpluses, so they were sold for some extra revenue.
This year’s youth intake is described as a potential golden generation.
Golden, perhaps, but something is definitely lacking there…
I signed the top three and fired the others. They actually have quite some potential, but I doubt the potential offsets the negative influences they might bring to youth teams.
The game is in a confused state with regards to European qualification. It says that I achieved it, but actually I didn’t, possibly because the last slot was decided by whether the Russian Cup winner is among the top four in the league.
And, as already mentioned, we ended up in the third place for the domestic league and the runner-up for the cup. Which is arguably the best result except Season 8, but the fact that it took a very poor run to prevent us to achieve more is saddening.
Finances and board
The finances situation is poor, but said to be stable (if you trust the in-game projections, which seems to be always off). I think that the situation is caused by us failing to qualify for continental football in the last season. The next season should see things improve.
However, a takeover happened during the season. The new boss apparently has different priorities. I talked to them, and apparently they dislike “signing young players for first team” but like “develop players using club’s youth team”.
I thus added the develop player one into the club’s philosophies. Hopefully, this will make club requests with regards to youth development easier. The old board was very stubborn against the idea of improving youth recruitment, for example.
The end of season awards. Most good stuff goes to Goreta, who has been incredible. Chevallier is the forward in the Team of the Season, despite having only spent half a season here. Giraev is indisputably the signing of the season.
Development story number one, Mikhail Semenov. He is still not a top performer, but 6 goals, 3 assists and 2 PoMs are a respectable stat. Reflecting this, he is now touted by media as a wonderkid.
Number two, Yegor Ryzhov. Despite the recommended role being central midfielder (attack), he is actually solid defensively as well, with enough height, strength and tackling to deal with threats of various kinds. But what is easily overlooked is his ambidexterity, which makes his first touch all the more relevant.
It is hard to say who is number three, since nobody really compared to the two in terms of improvement. Still, Goreta is worth mentioning because he is about the best player this season (sans Chevallier).
Finally, Kirillov, who I feel won’t actually work out. However, he scored 3 times (two of which are penalties though) and won one PoM. The problem, like I said in the last season, was that his playstyle seems to be only relevant against particular opponents, so that unless he gets really good, it would be very hard for him to start games.
It now feels that S9 was a particular disaster and we are now back on track. Problems remain to be solved, but at least I am now safe from immediate resignation and things are once again improving.