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If you’ve not already read the prelude to this fictional FM story about Sol Campbell’s adventures at Southend United, then I strongly recommend you do so now so that you can at the very least have some context on the nonsense that follows below before we embark on this new series of lifelong learnings, humorous FM content and a few somewhat tall tales as we prepare to hit continue for the first time in FM20.
📅 Monday 24th June 2019 (in game)
A phone rings…… ((📞)) ((📞))
“ Arry speaking – make it quick I’ve got a Nando’s coming”
“HARRYYYYYYYYY!!!! Big Sol here mate, just landed myself the Southend gig – piece of piss to be honest but said I’d give you a holler to see if you have any tips as I’ve told them we’ll be in the PL in 5 seasons (LOL)”
“Solly boyyyy!! Crikey how long was I in that jungle for, seems like only yesterday we was lifting the FA Cup together after battering Cardiff! Southend, well mate you know what I’m gonna say….you gotta call the boys – Crouchie, Niko, Jermaine, want me to open a WhatsApp group?”
“Crouchie’s retired mate, they’ve got him doing podcasts now..Jermaine is at Rangers the man will do anything for a few soft goals..and Niko, that lad hasn’t been seen since Croatia lost the World Cup final last year”
“Are you having a f*cking laugh? I should never have let those twats Ant and Dec lure me down to that sh*thole jungle…I only went coz Ant was on the grog and they said Holly Willoughby would be there”
“No joke pal, anyway the board have given me their Club Vision – they only want us to sign young players for the future so I’m thinking you can teach me whatever magic you had back in the day at West Ham when you brought through the likes of Frank, Rio, Joe, Glen and that Carrick lad – how’d you pull that off?”
“F*ck the board mate, listen to Arry he knows best – hang on I’ve got Football Manager open here I’ll find you a few gems of free agents…..oh Solly, there’s some beauts here – Paul Konchesky, James Collins, Kenywne Jones…maybe it’s time I come out of retirement, need a Director of Football?”
“Sh*t ermmmm….hang on mate I’ve got a call coming through here, better take it. Hello??”
“Sol Campbell….it is me, the Special One. I wanted to congratulate you on your new position even though I preferred you as No-Nonsense Centre-Back. Check your phone, Tottenham and Southend have just signed affiliation agreement, so now you will help take some of my not so special reserves on loan to your “Root Sol” and in return Jose gets first pick on any young players you have coming through so you must sign only youth prospects”
“Jose, wow I hadn’t heard – I see it now yeah…it’s actually called “Roots Hall” by the way but whatever…forget about loaning me some reserve players, any tips on Media Handling and Press Conferences? I’m told I’ve said a few silly things in the past though I don’t know rightly when..”
“Ah yes, your British media they love Jose…it is simple Sol Campbell, you must never ever show weakness…even if you don’t know answer or if you know you are wrong, always believe you are right and tell them same…look at me, I am translator who never played football but have managed all the top clubs..they fire me, I get new job, simples….whether it’s media, board, players, staff it doesn’t matter – if you always believe you are right then everyone else is wrong”
“I f*cking love it Jojo – can I call you Jojo? I’m gonna be the most assertive media owning mo-fo they’ve ever seen. Big time “Obrigado” for that mate…right I’ve got Harry on the other line, I’ll put you down for a pre-season friendly and we can do pre-drinks at my gaff. Good luck!”
“That was too easy, I’ll have him sacked by Christmas….”
“Sorry Harry, that was Jose – turns out Southend and Spurs are now affiliated, I’ll have to listen to that clown until he gets himself thrown out of there as well…where were we?”
“No worries mate, been busy here I’ve just spotted Ricardo Fuller is available on a free so I’ve DM’d him on Twitterface”
“Emmmm actually I better run Harry, gotta go meet the backroom staff here and prepare for an intra-squad friendly – I’ll catch you again yeah? Cheers.” (Hangs up)
“That job will be mine in a month….” 😈
And so with a newfound sense of bravado (which let’s be honest already exists in his own head), Sol Campbell is unveiled as the new Manager of Southend United and sits down to take his first ever Press Conference at Roots Hall Stadium. What could possibly go wrong?
True to his word he brings in his own staff in addition to Hermann Hreidarsson and Andy Cole who of course were brought to Southend by the real life Sol Campbell – have to say I’m pretty happy with these considering we are a League 1 outfit:
Squad review (before)
A quick look at the squad following our intra-squad friendly shows us that we have a lot of gaps to fill. It will take all of Sol’s genius and guile to bring in enough quality to help us ( 1 ) avoid relegation this year and ( 2 ) commence building the Sol Campbell empire at Southend. Our current first team looks something like this (click name to view profile):
Definitely not strong enough, with options needed at LB, MC, AML, AMR and up front. Brace yourselves Transfer Window, Sol is here…
Neither I nor Sol himself expected to have much transfer funds to play with for a team whose predicted media position in League 1 is 18th at the start of the season, however after meeting with Club Chairman Ron Martin (interestingly once a member of the 1980 Great Britain Olympic Bobsleigh team) we were unpleasantly surprised to be presented with our initial transfer, scouting and wage budgets:
That being said, after raising close to £200,000 through the sales of Oxley, White and Kiernan along with a few other get rich quick schemes (more on this later) – we were left with around £350,000 to spend after stretching our budget to the max and literally draining Ron of every penny. Time to go shopping (albeit Aldi/Lidl rather than M&S).
Jack Byrne – £240,000 (£120,000 up front)
Versatile Ireland international midfielder and former Man City academy graduate Jack Byrne is our main marquee signing, arriving from Shamrock Rovers in the League of Ireland for a fee of £240,000. I say international – FM has him down as 0 caps however he has since picked up two for Ireland in real life. With limited creativity in the team and with him still only 23 years old, we hope Jack will be our main source of assists and key passes this season and play a pivotal role going forward – nice to see his value shoot up to £875,000 also.
Tyrell Warren (Free Transfer)
Another Manchester graduate but this time from the red side of the city arrives in the form of Tyrell Warren, joining on a free transfer after having failing to land a new deal at Man Utd. Decent attributes all round for a CB and at just 20 years old combined with his ability to play anwhere across the back line should make him a valuable asset to an already vulnerable Southend defence. What does Sol think?
Ousmane Fané (Free Transfer)
Is this guy a great footballer? No. Is he a youth prospect? Not really (though still only 25). However, what this guy will bring to the team helps us in fulfilling one of our original School of Sol Campbell save objectives (you’ve already forgotten them haven’t you). His Strength (18), Work Rate (18), Stamina (18), Aggression (16), Bravery (19) and Natural Fitness (16) will give some much needed steel in our midfield spine..let’s just hope he is able to kick the ball 🤞:
Liam Bossin (Free Transfer)
Quite simply – a bang average Irish goalkeeper brought in as cover since we sold backup keeper Mark Oxley to Dundee. What’s interesting about this lad is that he was actually born in Belgium but qualifies for Ireland via his mother who was born in Tipperary (yes it’s a long way there).
Sol hadn’t much to say about this lad apart from hoping he will mainly be “bossin” the bench and not our goalposts!
Maurice Tinholt (£140,000)
Our final permanent signing is one we are most excited about, as this kid could turn out to be either the real deal as a wonderkid or at least bring us in some serious profit down the line should he turn out to be a decent Striker.
Here’s one for you – for some reason I always decline Press Conferences when I sign a youth player as I figure this doesn’t happen in real life…do you do the same?
Suffice to say we weren’t done there…this is Better Call Sol for crying out loud, after taking advice from Harry and Jose there is no stopping him now. We manage to bring in an additional 4 players on loan that both meet our School of Sol Campbell objectives and are realistic for a club of our stature.
To close off this ridiculously long opening blog post (rest assured they won’t all be like this) – one of my favourite FM bloggers @FMWayofLife asked me about my Manager Profile / Reputation that I had set as when creating the Sol Campbell character and whether this could have something to do with players/staff that we can attract to Southend. In FM20 we seem to have the option of signing the likes of Rhian Brewster, James Garner, Brandon Williams and Rafael Camacho all on loan however I felt that this would never happen IRL so we have stuck rigidly to players that in reality would sign on loan for a League 1 side. I hadn’t thought too much about reputation as I usually believe it depends on the club and not the manager, however I double checked anyway to be sure and as suspected found that I had set it to “Suggest based on Southend” which therefore gives Sol a bog standard 1 star reputation with a Continential A Licence. Do players care about Manager reputation in FM?
Learning Curve: No doubt Rhian Brewster probably would have torn up League 1 and scored 25-30 goals for us, however this defeats the purpose of starting a long-term project knowing he would most likely f*ck off back to Liverpool at the end of the season. Our goal here is to build a foundation and kick off the Sol Campbell dynasty. If you are a fan of realism like me, don’t let FM dictate your status in terms of reputation / interested players as it can still be unrealistic. YOU DECIDE.
Thanks for readingfolks – likes & retweets are greatly appreciated and if you would like to keep posted on Sol’s adventures please feel free to hit the Follow button below. My next post will summarise Sol’s first few months as Southend Manager (assuming he still is) and will of course feature a new special guest to help Sol on his path to greatness!