Samo’s Stirling – Grand Opening of Samo Stadium

Having successfully established Stirling as one of the best clubs in Scotland on the pitch, it was time to do this off the pitch too. We’d quickly outgrown our 3,808 capacity Forthbank home, we were unable to play our home European matches there (because home European matches are a thing now for the club!), and halfway through my seventh season in charge the board sanctioned a request to have a new stadium built. Just in time for the beginning of my ninth season in charge of Stirling, we’ll move into our brand spanking new 14k capacity home (you noticed the background image change, didn’t you?).

Nobody wants to be playing in the Stirling Albion Stadium. It’s uninspiring and the game needs to get better on things like this. So I went out and bought the in-game editor purely to change the name of our new stadium. Pure mad mental? Aye, probably. But fuck it. Welcome to the Samo Stadium.

It’s customary to open a new stadium with fanfare, fireworks and a fancy friendly match. You’ll have read what happened when I took my Stirling side to Argentina to face Bastardo’s Estudiantes side to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our club forming. Having kept in touch in the years since, including his recommendation to Walter Samuel to join as my new assistant manager last season, I felt it was only right to invite Bastardo’s bastards to Stirling to crack open the champagne bottle on the side of the Samo Stadium. Oh, and to play some football too of course.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Eight

Last season we finished 2nd and qualified for the Champions League for the first time. Unbelievable. Being the filling in a Celtic and Rangers sandwich has certainly come sooner than I was expecting, which seems to be the recurring theme of this save so far. My Stirling players continue to surprise me and I’m basically just happy enough joining them all on the ride.

Season eight will be a different story to the rest so far, there’s a little bit of pressure being applied. The board expect us to qualify for the Europa League, while the preseason prediction is that we’ll finish in the top six. We’ve got a responsibility to the rest of the teams in the country now too to do well in Europe and sustain our strong coefficient. We also need to have a strong season so that there’s still a wave of positivity surrounding the club when we move into the newly built Samo Stadium (not yet called this, but it bloody will be) at the beginning of season nine.

For now though, onwards with season eight!

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Samo’s Stirling – Stirling Futures

Season Seven’s post was titled “Kicking On” because I think there comes a time in every FM save when you need to do just that. Me taking my Stirling side to the next level hasn’t been deliberate and it certainly wasn’t planned to happen this early on. I really should stop coming across as moaning about it. We’ve flown under the radar since gaining promotion to the SPL, overachieving our status and reputation to qualify for Europe in three of my four seasons in the top tier of Scottish football. This culminated in a 2nd place finish last season, taking us into the Champions League qualifiers in my eighth season. Add that to making the 1st knockout round of the Europa League last season and work starting on a brand spanking new stadium for us to move into in the summer ahead of season nine, it’s safe to say we’ve certainly kicked on.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Seven – Kicking On

We enter into my seventh season in charge of Stirling now, and our fourth season in the Scottish Premier League. Season four saw us avoid relegation, while we overachieved massively in both season five and six. Finishing 3rd and 4th saw us qualify for the Europa League. I now feel safe to say we’ve consolidated our position as an SPL side and the financial gains from domestic and continental prize and TV money across the last three seasons have helped us get the club on a sound footing. This saw us taking the first steps to improving our facilities last season. Despite the board giving me a transfer budget of £10m to splash this season, there was no way I’d be spending it. The bank balance is secure, but it’s not sustainable yet. There’s still work to do to get there, we’ve still got the lowest average attendance in the league and are limited by our current stadium of improving that.

That £10m transfer kitty was accompanied by an expectation to finish in the top half. Based on our performances over the last couple of seasons, I was confident we could achieve this and then some. We might be sitting 13th in the league salary per annum table (Celtic £41m p/a, Rangers £22m p/a, Stirling £2.7m p/a) but we’ve appeared to revel in punching above our weight so far and I can see us continuing to do so.

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FM18 Tactics: 4-4-2

I grew up watching football at a time when 4-4-2 was the standard across Scottish and English football. Beckham and Giggs on the flanks, Keane and Scholes centrally and Yorke and Cole up top are my most vivid memories of the formation. Even now, on terraces across Scottish football you’ll still hear some rage when teams aren’t playing “two up top”.

You can catch me waxing lyrical on the OneMoreGame podcast, on FMSlack or on Twitter about my 4-4-2 on FM18. I felt it was about time I got some words down in blog form too.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Six – Domestic Consolidation

After you’ve read all about our European exploits in the first half of the season, come back here and have a read of how we got on domestically in my sixth season in charge of Stirling Albion on FM18.

In case you missed it, we overachieved above all expectations last season and finished as the best of the rest behind Rangers and Celtic. In comparison to our league rivals, we’re absolute minnows. We spend a fraction of what they do on our players wages and we’re playing in the smallest stadium in the league. Punchin’ ??

This season, the bookies expect us to finish 11th in the SPL, giving odds of 300/1 to win the league. After our heroics last season the board would be delighted with consolidating our place in the top tier and finishing mid-table. That’ll do me nicely. Let’s see what we could do with that £100k transfer budget they gifted me.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Six – European Adventure

It’s been a couple of weeks now and I’m still in disbelief about last season. Going from battling relegation in our first season in the SPL to finishing 3rd and qualifying for Europe in our second season is ridiculous, quite frankly. We overachieved massively expectations-wise, but across the season, we actually deserved it. We played some brilliant football, with #Rog and Ryan Hardie firing on all cylinders and our young captain, Ryan Porteous, leading the backline.

So European football eh? Let’s just not embarrass ourselves, that’s the aim. Kilmarnock’s Scottish Cup win trumps our 3rd place league finish so the journey starts in the 2nd qualifying round with a trip to Sweden to face IFK Göteborg.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Five – WTF!?

I’ve only just managed dry myself off after being so close to not being able to keep our heads above the choppy water of the SPL relegation zone in season four and we’re back again for the season five review!

The media expects us to finish 16th this season, they’re not backing us to build on last season’s survival, while my board are more than happy to just avoid relegation again. My own feeling is that we need to significantly strengthen if we want to remain in the league, never mind improve on last season’s 13th place finish.

We had some really positive results last season, and even more positive performances. A couple of quality acquisitions might just see the mistakes decrease, a few more goals scored instead of missed chances and turn the disappointing reds and yellows on the results screen into a sea of green. Keep reading to see how we get on.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Four – Operation Float

In my third season managing Stirling Albion on FM18 we were unexpectedly promoted to the top tier of Scottish football. The promised land. The resurrected SPL.

In the aim of growing the club, it’s where we need to be to properly kickstart things but I do feel it’s come slightly too soon…how the hell would we cope playing against the big clubs on a weekly basis?

For starters the odds are stacked massively against us. The media is expecting us to go right back down again with the other two promoted clubs, Dumbarton and Queen of the South. With Inverness and St Mirren also installed as relegation favourites alongside us, there was a sliver of hope that we could do enough to keep our heads above positions 16th-18th. Operation Float is on.

Add to that the fact that our reputation to attract some players I feel I’d like to still isn’t quite there and I’m predicting that this season will be a struggle. Let’s start off by taking a look at my summer transfer dealings.

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Samo’s Stirling – Matches that Made Season Three

You know you’re absolutely loving an FM save when you can power through the seasons at a faster rate than your usual. I’ve finished off my third season in charge of Stirling Albion on FM18 and, spoiler alert, it was a successful one for the club. After last season’s playoff final heartbreak, we only went and won the playoffs this season! That’s right, we’ve been promoted to the top tier of Scottish football (the resurrected SPL on this edited database). Trying something a little bit different for this update to get you up to speed, I’m going to highlight four matches across the season that really stood out for me and contributed to making it a successful one.

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