Ahead of FM17 last year, I wrote my summary of my year on FM16. So ahead of FM18, here’s my FM17 summary post! I said it last year, and I’ll say it again, this post is mainly for me. My memory when it comes to Football Manager, and Championship Manager before it, is utterly useless. You hear so many people on Twitter or on podcasts recalling great tales of brilliant saves they’ve had over the years. Only big things stick out for me as I mentioned in last year’s post, so going forward I hope that documenting my year of playing the game in a format like this will help me to better remember what I’ve done when I look back.
Community Goings On
Looking back on last year’s post, I’m reminded it was the year that #wearethecommunity started on Twitter too. FM17 has seen similar things happen that have brought the community together. There’s been the emergence of numerous Discords, plus I started curating the community section for the Deep Lying Podcast, which I’ve absolutely loved doing. The big one for me though has been, of course, #FMSlack. With forums all but dying out, I had been chatting with a few folk towards the end of last year about potential platforms similar to them, and because I use it at work, Slack jumped out as a solution.
In just over 10 months, more than 1,200 people have chosen to join it and, at some point, take part in the various discussions, debate and chat happening on there on a daily basis. There’s been just under 450,000 messages sent on there since it began. That’s pretty remarkable. It’s not for everyone, and of course, not all of those 1,200 people have continued to use it on a regular basis. But there’s people that have, and I’ve had so many great comments about it. It’s enabled people to update on their saves that maybe wouldn’t before, and importantly, it’s allowed them to engage with people who they maybe couldn’t have previously. I’ve loved it and let’s hope it continues on to FM18!
“No one likes us…”
Now onto the action, my FM17 save. It was fun looking back on my FM16 summary post, and seeing me deliberate about whether I’d go RBLeipzig or not. As you might already know, I chose them and “No one likes us…” began! It’s well documented how hated the club are in Germany for their workaround of the 50+1 rule, so I wanted to play on that by making us even more hated, by becoming Germany’s most successful club. I set out to only recruit players that were 24 or under, develop them and then make money selling them off when it made sense to.
Considering what RBLeipzig did in the Bundesliga in the non-FM 2016/17 season, it’s really difficult to look back to the beginning of last season and think of them as a newly promoted side, but that’s how my FM17 save started! Our reputation was low and we were predicted to finish in 15th place by the German media. Assessing my squad, I didn’t think it needed much in the way of major recruitment, just a few extra options here and there, but it was certainly good enough to mount a European challenge. My first competitive match of the save was a 5-1 defeat against Bayern at the Allianz…good start. We did improve though and at the end of season one we finished 6th, enough to qualify for the Europa League. With only four defeats across the season, it could have been so much more if it wasn’t for the 15 draws we had!
Bayern fired in a £56m bid for Naby Keita ahead of season 2. I was determined not to lose one of my prized assets, that didn’t stop me contingency planning for his replacement though. Season two also saw Timo Werner start to cement his position in my heart, by taking home the European Golden Boy award, and scoring a brilliant hattrick in the Europa League semi final against Schalke. A vastly improved league position of 3rd was delivered, along with a Europa League final appearance, albeit going down 2-1 against Mourinho’s United. We were improving, up to 49th in the European Club Rankings.
Setting ourselves up as underdogs, and trying to grind out results in a reserved 4-2-2-1-1 formation, complete with a shadow striker, usually Timo, behind Yussuf Poulsen, our targetman, had worked well for the first two seasons. We’d certainly made good progress, but season three saw change afoot. Injuries to Timo saw me try Oliver Burke a couple of times in the SS role, and it led me to wonder what a formation with a couple of shadow strikers would look like. It worked wonders, and we had the opportunity to win our first Bundesliga title with the new current reigning European Golden Boy through on goal against Bayern Munich in the second last match of the season…
Heartbreak. We had to settle for a second consecutive 3rd place finish in the end. Our first bit of silverware in the save was secured though, as we recovered from Bundesliga heartbreak to demolish Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final, 4-0. Real Madrid had knocked us out of the Champions League in the 1st knockout round in our first foray into that competition, but we’d risen to 34th in the European Club Rankings now. Ahead of season four, I outlined my intentions to take over at RBSalzburg as well as RBLeipzig. The Red Bull Revolution was just beginning.
Three seasons of AI mismanagement meant there was a lot of work to be done in Salzburg to get the club back on a sound footing again. Older high earners were moved on, and a raft of younger players were brought in, with a view to creating a development ground for talent to eventually move to Leipzig. Success was still an aim too, and a domestic double was won in Philipp Lahm’s (he retired at Bayern and decided to turn to the even darker side of the force) first season in charge.
Season four in Leipzig saw the arrival of Kai Havertz. Our increase in reputation enabled us to start poaching some of Germany’s best talent from our rival clubs, another step in our aim to be hated throughout the country. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to see our Champions League performance improve, as we fell at the hands of Real Madrid again, this time in the quarter final. More progress though. Our second consecutive DFB-Pokal was secured, beating Dortmund in the final again. Now for the big one, in the new formation, between two shadows, we’d started turning our disappointing draws into wins. As soon as we were able to do that, I was always confident we could properly challenge for the Bundesliga. Challenge? Nah, how about winning it, which is what we did in my fourth season. What a feeling, just one point clear of Bayern in second though. We’d propelled ourselves into the elite. Just outside the top 20 clubs in Europe now!
If season four was synonymous with Havertz’ arrival, season five will be forever remembered as the arrival of Thomas Lemar in Leipzig on a free transfer. Thank you AI mismanagement. With the amount we didn’t spend on Lemar, I splashed out a potential £50m on Benjamin Henrichs, my highest fee paid on FM17. And if two big arrivals wasn’t enough in the summer of 2020, Walid Harbaoui arrived from ES Sahel in Tunisia for £750k. Who, I hear you ask? This chap. One of the greatest players I’ve ever found and managed on any Football Manager.
Christian Fruchtl arrived from Bayern in January too, and quickly made the number one jersey his own. Anyway, enough season five transfers, onto match action, and it was a big season. The Bundesliga was retained in dominating fashion, 12 points ahead of Bayern this time. They were also defeated after extra time in the DFB-Pokal final, for our third successive win in that competition too. The Champions League was where it was at in season five though. Firstly, both my Red Bull clubs were drawn against each other in the group stage (RBSalzburg secured a second domestic double in a row, but crashed out of the CL in the group stage in my first attempt with them). RBLeipzig fought off both Manchester clubs en route to the final, where I faced off against Spurs. Step up, Oliver Burke, in the 74th minute to bring the Champions League trophy to Leipzig for the first time! An unbelievable achievement for me, and I was delighted my fellow countryman was the one scoring the momentous winning goal.
Champions League in the bag, that was the end of the save, right? The pinnacle had been reached, it couldn’t get any better. Course it could. I wanted more. In the summer ahead of season six, we raked in almost £100m in transfer fees, getting rid of some squad players and deadwood, and really focusing on quality now over quantity. In came Kylian Mbappe from Monaco on a free transfer. Keeping track? That’s both Lemar and Mbappe arriving from Monaco on free transfers in consecutive seasons. Come on SI, please sort out AI management. We weren’t able to defeat Arsenal in the European Super Cup, but the remainder of season six saw us go unbeaten! Lifting the Club World Cup, the Bundesliga (for the third time in a row), the DFB-Pokal (for the fourth time in a row) and the Champions League (for the second time in a row!). The quintuple (still annoyed it wasn’t a sextuple) was in the bag. Our successive Champions League wins had propelled us to first place in the European Club Rankings. From not even in the top 18 most reputable clubs in Germany at the start of the save, to being Europe’s most reputable club in my sixth season is an awesome achievement. Moving #Timouptop from him playing in the shadow striker role proved a masterstroke as he fired in 31 goals and provided 19 assists, his best return since season two and it won him the European Golden Shoe.
Successive Champions League wins, just end it there surely? Nope. I wanted the dynasty to continue. Alongside the dynasty continuing, the Red Bull Revolution expanded going into season seven. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have but when I figured out how to do this during a save, I needed to. I managed to work out how to edit a team’s name during a save, so I took over at West Ham, edited their name to Red Bull London, the Olympic Stadium became the Red Bull Stadium (after splashing out on the in-game editor, literally just to do that!), claret and blue became white and red and the club was welcomed into the Red Bull Revolution with all the appropriate affiliate links created too. A brilliant fourth place finish followed in my first season in charge in London, qualifying for the Champions League.
Season seven started with Dortmund taking a Japanese newgen off our hands, that was never going to make it in my first team, for £59m. Danke, Dortmund! We won the DFL-Supercup again and avenged last season’s defeat in the European Supercup by winning it this time round. Bayern pushed us close as we went into the winterpause, mostly thanks to our exploits in retaining the Club World Cup for a second successive time, but come the end of the season we’d won the Bundesliga for the fourth time by finishing 12 points ahead of them. A second domestic season unbeaten wasn’t to be, as Stuttgart beat us on matchday 33, annoying. The DFB-Pokal has pretty much just found a permanent home in the RBL trophy room, Gladbach were beaten 1-0 in season seven’s final, for our fifth consecutive win. Could another Champions League win be on the cards to round off a perfect season trophy-wise? Nope. Mourinho’s outrageous looking PSG side spurned our chance at winning another CL by beating us in the semi final, and went on to win it themselves. Season seven would end in heartache.
I could have ended the save there. I should have ended the save there. But I couldn’t. I needed to try my damn best to win a third Champions League. With FM18 quickly approaching, I started season eight. What was I thinking? I play the game so slowly! I’m managing three teams in one save! I’d never finish it before the beta drops. All valid and correct points. The beta is even closer now, and I’m currently at the end of February in 2024. I won’t get it finished before then, but I’m still determined to finish off the save after the end of season eight. We’re on our way to glory again in Leipzig. We’re completely dominating the Bundesliga, we’re through to the DFB-Pokal semi final, and we drew 2-2 in the Bernabeu against Real in the Champions League 1st knockout round. In Salzburg, we’re on course for a another domestic double (it’d be the fifth one in a row) and have actually just beaten Juventus 3-0 at home in the Europa League 1st knockout round! In London, RBLDN are currently sitting top of the Premier League! What an ending it’d be there if we could win it. The bastards that are PSG are currently 2-0 up on RBLDN though after the first match of the CL 1st knockout round.
I wanted to get this post out before the beta drops, but I hate doing it when I’m not quite finished yet. I’ll update this last paragraph when I finally finish my eighth and final season of “No one likes us…”. What a save it’s been though.
I was critical of the promo from SI around FM17’s release last year. This year’s attempt for FM18 has certainly been nowhere near last year’s car crash, but again with my marketing brain plugged in, I’d still love to see just a few little tweaks. My first tweak would be, now that there’s a new social media manager in place, to remove any and all responsibility from Miles of communicating about the game on Twitter. He actually does SI more harm than good the majority of the time. He’s the well known face of the company, and isn’t helped by the fact that he gets hundreds of Tweets to his personal Twitter account asking him questions about the game, anyone’s responses would likely be similar, but it’s got to stop. It’s great that he’s so active on Twitter, but for him to be announcing things on his Twitter instead of the official FM account is just madness to me.
The second tweak I’d make would be to either, continue the contract renewal bonus offer until after the first pieces of info around the game have been released or to release a bit more info before the contract renewal bonus ends. For SI to wait and release the first big video reveal until after the deal had finished is pretty bad. Just relying on all of us addicts who’ll blindly pre-order, of which I am of course one.
2017 on the Site
I always say, and recommend this to others too, that I only write about my FM experiences for myself. It’s great to keep a track of how you’re doing in a save and help you stick to targets you set out for yourself. However, it’s brilliant if other people love reading about this game we all love. FM17 and 2017 has been a good year for the blog…
Thanks to everyone that’s visited this blog again this year. Will that same trajectory continue for FM18 and 2018? We shall see. Roll on the release!
No FM18 save reveal from me this year in this post. I’ve already decided where I’m heading when the game comes out. I’m heading back to the homeland…