And Now For Something Completely Different…

I’ve decided that it’s time to head in a different direction with my FM blogging. Due to a combination of struggling to feel like doing updates (even though I am still playing, at the end of January in my third season) and checking out the FM Stories section on the official forums, I will be attempting to do a save with updating in that style. It doesn’t have anything to do with my actual in game performance, I just have not been able to get myself interested in taking all the screenshots and doing a public save in the format that I’m used to.

The “story” format I feel like I will have more success and motivation with. I can do it right along with my save, typing on my laptop while playing the game on my desktop. I won’t be posting blog updates for every match, obviously, but since the format will have me writing something about every match, it’ll be more involved. Right now I sort of dread doing updates, because I ‘m just taking screenshots and covering three months or more with a few broad paragraphs. Maybe I have a lot of unknown, pent up creativity that just needs a lot of writing to come out. Maybe I should stop blathering about why and just get on with it?

For the record, my journeyman save (which I’ll still be playing) is sitting right at the close of January 2017, still in charge of Nottingham Forest. We’re currently sitting in 10th place in the Premier League with 29 points. I spent a massive amount of cash in the pre-season, most notably on Martin Odegaard. I’ve also just managed to grab Roberto Soldado from Spurs for just 750k in January. Highlights of the season include a 4-0 win over Liverpool and just recently a 5-0 slaughter of Tottenham who were top of the league at the time. Staying up looks all but secured heading into the latter part of the season, with us currently 13 points clear of the drop zone and being able to get good results. I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to doing an update or two on that save, probably at season’s end. Anyway, onward into the great unexplored frontier!

 An American Abroad

Since this is a “story” save, my manager will be myself. Luckily, this is the first year in FM that I can use my actual birthday. I’m a 25 year old American from the humble and unknown state of Delaware. I’ll be setting my badges and prior experience to as low as they can do to reflect reality. I’m using a large database with several edited files. First and foremost, I’m using the England Level 9 database by 4ndyMUFC. Additional edited databases are: Germany down to level 5, Wales down to level 5, and the full Scottish pyramid system. I’ve loaded all the English Leagues, all the Welsh Leagues, Scotland down to the Highlands/Lowlands Leagues, all the German Leagues, both Irish Leagues, and both Northern Irish Leagues. France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain all have their top league only loaded in view-only mode. We’ll be starting in June 2014.

Introduction

My name is David. I’ve been a fan of football for most of my life. Being American, it’s been very hard to get much except the top leagues from Europe. Domestically, we have the MLS, and I’ve been a staunch supporter of the Philadelphia Union from their inception as the closest team to where I spent most of my life. There are leagues in the US under the MLS, but there is no pyramid system; no promotion or relegation. There’s no supporting a top flight team but really being die-hard about the small club who’s ground is a mile away. The magic of the FA cup doesn’t exist in America. The thrill of your local team, who can’t even afford a spare set of shirts, pulling out a heartstopping victory over a team several divisions higher and several hundred million pounds richer just can’t be found.

I’ve never spent much time playing the beautiful game in any official capacity. As a child I spent a few years playing recreational for the youth club nearby, but never anything competitive. The closest thing to a real match I’ve ever played was an 11v11 pickup game at a field near the University of Delaware, where a group of us who happened to be there played against some sort of u-19 team from Cameroon. I happened to end up playing on the Cameroonian side and even managed to score a goal against my best friend who’d been a goalkeeper in youth and high school. The coach that was there with the Cameroon team said I had good instincts for a striker, which I thought was rather generous considering all I did was chip a through ball that was sent perfectly in for me. A fairly serious back injury kept me from even that minimal amount of involvement through the first half of my twenties.

With the aid of a popular simulation game for the PC, I managed to at least pretend I was involved. I realized I’d never be able to play in any sense other that perhaps a recreational adult league, but clicking away as a computer manager gave me an understanding of tactics and management, as well as a knowledge of the various league systems and rules matched by what I can only assume is few Americans. Following on an idea that even I considered extremely preposterous, I gathered up my money and belongings and decided to move to the UK. My destination was Devon; I’d been able to trace the roots of my family back quite a ways and why not move to where my ancestors had come from?

I put months of time in researching all of the non-league clubs in the area, still completely going off the nigh impossible assumption that I’d ever be able to get a job at any of them. As the money I had banked up to undertake this adventure began to run low, it seemed I could either admit this was all a silly dream and move back to the States, or perhaps find a lowly job in Exeter where I was staying. Just as it seemed that I was at a dead end, I saw in the papers that the manager of nearby Tiverton Town F.C. was stepping down. There was no chance, I thought, but I got in contact with the club anyway and explained my absurd situation.

The board, perhaps only because the departure of the previous manager had left them much worse off financially, actually invited me down to Ladysmead for an interview. I really had no idea how to prepare myself. Accomplishments on a computer game don’t really make for a good CV. I headed to the meeting with Chairman David Wright hoping that a solid tactical plan and a knowledge of the football system completely unexpected from an American just might be able to land me the job. Unbelievably, he must have been impressed by one of the two. The interview ended with him offering me a firm handshake and a one year contract at 2,800 pounds a month to be the new Tivvy manager.

The Beginning

24 June, 2014

My first order of business as manager was to meet the squad I’d be in charge of. I introduced myself, acknowledging that I was completely unknown to the club and whole football system in general. It may have just been that British politeness that I’ve heard so much about, but the whole squad welcomed me warmly. The captain told me that he was excited to work with a fresh manager. The rest of the squad agreed; they felt that I could be a source of new ideas that could really help the side. We soon hit a stumbling block, as when I announced the ambition the chairman had shared with me of making the playoffs most of the lads seemed to think I wasn’t being ambitious enough. Not wanting to cause a big row on my first day, I told them that perhaps they were right, and we should set our sights on promotion.

A meeting with my small backroom staff later that morning went even better. Everyone seemed generally excited at the prospect of working with me. There wasn’t much tactically to discuss yet, however, as I hadn’t introduced my system. We managed to figure out who we wanted to be taking set pieces, and I set to work laying out how I was planning on playing the squad. I opted to keep it simple and go first for a flat 4-4-2 formation.

I spent a large portion of the day with our scout Jon Peacock, as well as Assistant Manager Stephen Herrera. We only had 18 players at the club including those on non-contract terms. Not only did we lack depth, but Herrera advised me we were sorely lacking quality in certain areas for the first team. The main order of business was to identify players that we could offer a trial to. Discounting the players already signed to terms at the club, we had less than a thousand pounds a month to use on wages. Having players come in for a few weeks on trial would give us a good chance to see them in action and have a good idea where we wanted to spend that wage money.

There were five strikers at the club upon my arrival, although only Jules Emati-Emati and Dan Western had real quality. Luckily they were both on part time contracts, so I wasn’t too worried about losing them any time soon. Midfield and defense were fairly weak areas, with fullback, centerback, center mid, and wide mid each only having three players able to play the positions. Our weakest area without a doubt, however, was in goal. We had the choice of 16 year old Jake Aimson, who my assistant assured me showed some potential, or 28 year old Chris Wright who was to my relief not related in any way to our chairman. Wright, I was told clearly, was not good enough for the squad. However, he was on a massive 300 pounds a month. Not much to do there, as I certainly didn’t expect that anyone would come in and buy him.

The rest of my first day on the job was spent with my staff contacting players that we thought we should bring in on trials. I also decided to schedule two more pre-season friendlies than what was currently on the calendar. We had a long, grueling season ahead of us, and I wanted to make sure that the squad was both fully fit and in full understanding of our tactics before the season started.

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