Hello and welcome back to Football Manager Ambition.
What a season! Just... wow. I play Football Manager primarily for fun. I enjoy it. Yeah, there's a bit of me that likes that challenge of outwitting the game designers, but mostly, it's just fun. But I did not enjoy the latest season; 2021/22, one bit.
I stayed with Aston Villa the whole season, despite a late (unsuccessful) application for the Chelsea job. But I have to tell you, I have never had to work so hard on a save. Good results were incredibly hard to come by. At one stage it got so difficult that I entered what is for me new and dangerous territory: I began to doubt my tactics. All this led to an incredibly dramatic end to the season. I won't forget this save in a hurry!
GREAT FOOTBALL MANAGER QUOTES
"If you do not believe you can do it, then you have no chance at all."
~Arsene Wenger, being a source of inspiration when I thought last season would go belly up.
RESULTS, NOT EXCUSES!
They say in football you're only as good as your last result. Well, as each match went by last season, I was wondering exactly how not good I was!
The first three games of the season were a mixed bag: A home draw with Palace, an away defeat to Chelsea, and a fantastic home win over Arsenal. The victory over the Gunners filled me with confidence. I'm used to overachieving with my clubs, and I thought this was a pointer to me being able to exceed board expectations, and be good enough to qualify for Europe! Unfortunately, I then took four points from the next five league matches.
I continued cobbling together points here and there, but I went the whole of November and December without a win in any competition.
By this time I was hovering around 13th in the league. Board expectation was to finish in the top half of the table, so it wasn't impossible, but times were tough. On several occasions, I had the players coming to me doubting my ability. This resulted in Danny Drinkwater being stripped of the captaincy, and ultimately being sold to Sheffield United of all teams! (At a profit, of course!)
I had to work hard to convince the players everything would be fine, even though I wasn't sure if I believed it myself. I made some very minor tweaks to tactics; switching from whipped crosses to low crosses, and fiddling with defensive width, but none of it made me happy. I decided to have faith in my well-tested tactics. I made changes to the squad in January, and warned several players about their conduct in supporting Drinkwater. But it almost felt as if the game were working against me! Normally, you encounter this odd sense of resistance in the game only when there's a board takeover going on, but that wasn't the case. Until suddenly, it was the case! The chairman announced he was looking to move on! Had something been affecting performance in the background leading up to this? Who knows? In any case, my job status, for a while, became insecure.
Anyway, despite a protracted takeover process, and all the uncertainty, I stuck to my guns, and my form improved a little after the January window.
Then going into the business end of the season, I picked up huge wins over Liverpool and Stoke.
Going into the last game of the season, seventh-placed Leicester were on 54 points. I was on 51 points, but with a better goal difference than them. I had to play Stoke (on 50 points); Leicester were at home to high-flying Man City. If I could beat Stoke, and Leicester, as seemed likely, buckled under Man City then... wait a minute... I'd qualify for Europe!
I did it! After the toughest season ever in all the years I've played all the different versions of Championship Manager and Football Manager, against all the odds, I'd taken Villa to European qualification!
MATCH OF THE BLOG
THE JOB CENTRE
And after that season, it's only fair to expect this...
It was shortly after this screenshot that Martinez lost his job, and I got turned down for the Chelsea position.
A stressful time? You have no idea Mr Chairman!
THE TRANSFER WINDOW
As usual, I did some decent business in the transfer windows...
The young lad Raskin was a good buy, as he is an actual Wonderkid. I'll make some good profit on him if I stay at Villa for a while.
Net Spend: £32m. For getting into Europe? Not bad!
FOOTBALL MANAGER PROBLEMS
This time, I've got two Football Manager Problems to share with you. The first one, fairly minor, is just silly and annoying. The second one though is worth staying around for...
Press conferences. I always use a calm demeanour, but even so, when it comes to local derbies, I always talk up the pressure of the match. So when the WBA match came along...
And the press report it thus...
Is this intentional in the game; press mis-reporting? Or, more likely, further examples of crap interaction. *sigh*
There is a definite problem in FM19 with interactions between managers and players. There are many examples, but I decided to log one on the bugs forum. I don't know why I use the bugs forum; I don't like the attitude of some of the SI people on there. And that means I ten to respond with silliness. Which is exactly what happened when I reported an odd interaction with my then-Captain, Danny Drinkwater...
So, with Villa in Europe, my job status untouchable, and some decent players in the bag, what does the future hold?
Well, on the one hand, it holds this:
But on the other hand, it might hold this...
That's all for this time! Thank you for stopping by, and may your game never crash unsaved!