Hello again. Welcome to part four of Football Manager Ambition.
As you will have gathered by now, I'm a lifelong supporter of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club (cue joke about it being a dirty job but someone having to do it, etc).
Wednesday have been in the news today, and once again, it's dividing fan opinion...
BBC Radio Sheffield have confirmed they will no longer broadcast commentary of the Owls games, because the club have turned down a new deal with the BBC. To be fair, the BBC was trying to negotiate a 10% reduction in coverage fees - an offer it has made to 62 other clubs. Out of all the clubs, Wednesday are the only one to refuse. Instead, the club wants fans to listen on its subscription service, for a monthly charge. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
Today's FM Ambition blog is about dealing with the Chairman on Football Manager. Before we get into it, here's our regular look at one of the...
GREAT FOOTBALL MANAGER QUOTES
Okay, I'm cheating today, because this quote, in keeping with our theme, is actually from a chairman:
"Why do you want Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?"
~Jack Walker, Blackburn chairman, 1995.
You can imagine the look on the face of Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish, who was trying to defend a Premier League title at the time.
Back in the late nineties and early noughties, Sky One ran a TV show called Dream Team, which was great fun. It was all about a fictional football team, Harchester United, who made their way into the Premier League. Sky used real Premier League footage in the show, digitally altered to make it look like Harchester were playing. To say the show had some unusual characters for chairmen over the years would be an understatement. However, one of my favourite memories of the show was a cameo by ex-SWFC legend Ron Atkinson, playing himself as the then-manager of Harchester, and giving his chairman a loud telling off. I wonder if that kind of thing goes on in real life?
More to the point, does it happen in my Football Manager save? Well, you don't get the option of telling the chairman off, but I have just threatened my chairman on the game with my resignation (he wasn't bothered - I didn't follow through), and I have started to make ominous comments in press conferences about not being supported by the chairman. It'll blow over. The problem is, I've become a victim of my own success.
I get a lot of success on Football Manager. I'm currently in season 2026/2027 (season 10). I've won the Premier League twice, the Champions League four times in a row, and had multiple wins in the League Cup, FA Cup, World Club Cup, European Super Cup, and Charity Shield!
I have been asked how I get so much success so quickly with a club like Sheffield Wednesday on the game. My general approach is that I treat a number of parts of the game as equally important: Player recruitment, staff recruitment, coaching, scouting and the boardroom all get a lot of attention from me. The term I use to describe my approach is relentless. My chairman hardly gets a moment's rest from me. If this game were real life, I'd be knocking on the chairman's door two or three times a day!
You can get a lot out of your chairman in FM by constant pestering. Having said that, you then have to deliver results. But taking over a club like SWFC on Football Manager 2018, you're not going to get results without some backing from the chairman. It's a symbiotic relationship.
When you go the boardroom on the game, and click on that boardroom request menu, there is always a list of things you can ask for, under various categories; Facilities, Finance, Networking, Personal and Staff. You get to make a maximum of three requests in any visit, but each request can turn into a long conversation. If you ask for more transfer funds, and get refused, you can go on to tell the chairman you're worried about losing out in the transfer market, or getting left behind by your rivals. You could claim extra funds are the least the chairman can do after all the success you've brought to the club. You can claim you have the the support of the fans behind your request, stamp your feet, and even offer your resignation. Sometimes, some of these steps work, and you get the extra funds, or the increased scouting range you were after, or you get to recruit more coaches, or you get improved training facilities, etc.
Generally, I'll keep on pestering the chairman constantly. I start by asking for things I really want, but once they've been granted or refused - and thus have disappeared from the game menu - I'll keep asking for other stuff. If I get refused on a request for an increase to player wages for example, over time I'll make every other request going, until player wages are back on the menu for discussion. I'm relentless with it. And it seems to work most of the time. However...
After the ridiculous success I've had on this game - last season I won the Premier League, The Champions League, the League Cup, The European Super Cup and the World Club Championship, with a star-studded team full of England internationals - it's starting to feel like the chairman thinks I've got a magic wand.
Investment in the past hasn't actually been that generous; Yes, I've paid big money for a lot of players - so far on this save in the transfer market, I've spent £1.05 billion - but I've also brought in £605 million through sales. So I've delivered all this success on a net spend of around £400 million in just over nine years, which is shoestring territory in the Premier League!
At the start of this season, I was allocated just £75 million as a transfer fund. Not even enough to buy the one player who was at the top of my list of transfer targets. And annoyingly, I've not been able to sell some of the players I wanted to offload - I've only got rid of James Ward-Prowse at a knockdown price. I've brought in a squad winger, and a young, third-choice keeper. Apart from that, I've picked up a few free transfers purely with the intention of loaning them out with the borrowing clubs paying 100% of wages, and fees to boot (it keeps a bit of passive income trickling in). Almost every player not in my 24-man first-team squad is now loaned out. And, I've set my budget slider all the way to the left on wages, leaving a minimum paltry £12 million in the transfer kitty. I can't spend it because there's no player good enough for my squad for that kind of money.
I've got two players aged 32 that I need to offload while they still have some value; Eric Dier and Jordan Pickford. Both have contracts that run out at the end of this season. Hopefully, come January the chairman will have oiled his pockets, and I can sell Dier and Pickford, and get the players I need. Otherwise, the good times might be over. It's early in the season, but I got hammered 4-1 in the European Super Cup this time, by Man Utd, and I've had a 2-2 draw with Villa. Plus, my star striker is still out for a few more months with the cruciate ligament damage! It could all start going wrong from here. Man City away, next.
I'll let you know how I get on. See you soon!