The Unknown Manager: Catching You Up, Pt. 1

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Catching You Up

It’s been a long while since I made an update. You might’ve noticed. I’ve touched on it before in posts on this blog (because this is what always happens to saves), but my anxiety got the best of me and so I stopped posting for a while. The main issue with this is that I continued to play the save in the meantime. The last blog post leaves off in February 2020, the current date in the save now is 21 July, 2025. What I’m going to attempt to do, over the course of several more “overview”-type posts, is catch the blog up to where the save is so that I can continue on. This has been one of my best FM saves ever, and for someone with over 1000 hours on each version since FM12, that includes a LOT of saves. My unbelievable success in my first job at Glentoran made me fall in love with the club as well as the save.  Getting offered a Championship job as only the second of my career is certainly something I’ve never even come close to experiencing. Basically, I’ve enjoyed this save too much to not share it.

I’ve never done a retrospective-style post like this, so please bear with me. This is a story you don’t want to miss.

End of 2019-2020 Season

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Saved from relegation! Results in the last few months were mixed, with 4 wins, 3 draws, and 5 losses from our last 12 matches. Jonathan Kodija continued his incredible form, scoring six more goals in those final twelve matches to finish the season with an impressive nineteen goals.

2020-2021 Season
Sky Bet Championship

My first summer transfer window with Aston Villa was a total mess. Several players wanted moves to bigger clubs, so we saw Jack Greaslish(5.75m-Watford), Conor Hourihane(8m-Sunderland), and James Bree(6m-Norwich) leave the club. I brought in a totally eccentric mix of youth and veteran players with very mixed results. The more senior players included Kieran Gibbs(Arsenal-Free), Kevin Mirallas(Everton-300k), Charlie Austin(Free), and Robert Snodgrass(Free). Younger talent included Tyrell Warren(Man Utd-1.2m), Ruben Loftus-Cheek(Chelsea-1.4m), DeAndre Yedlin(Newcastle-155k), and Harrison Reed(Southampton-1,1m).

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WHAT. A. TURNAROUND. After our rather heroic rescue last season, the board were expecting me to get the team back up into mid-table where they’d been since coming down to the Championship after 2015-2016. I thought we might do a little better and push for a playoff spot. The first half or so of the season went right along with my expectation. We hit a terrible run of form right around the turn of the year, and that had me doubting we’d have a shot at the playoffs after all. Following the three straight losses at the end of December, I started working on some alternate tactical approaches, before finally settling on a narrow 4-3-1-2. Everything just clicked at this point, as we finished the season with a staggering 13 wins in our last 16 games. We only came up three points short of the champions, and managed to sneak past Newcastle into the second automatic promotion spot on goal difference. Simon Mignolet was in outstanding form, recording eleven clean sheets during those final sixteen games. An unimpressive run in the EFL Cup was cut short by Manchester United in the third round. but revenge was on the cards as we reversed the scoreline when we met in the FA Cup 4th round. That led to us going all the way to the Semi-Final, narrowly losing 1-0 to Tottenham.

In a season and a half, I’ve taken Aston Villa from the edge of falling out of the Championship to a Premier League return. Will I be able to avoid relegation next season? Can I reestablish Villa as a regular Premier League side? Find out next time!

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