This is the second post in this “We Are United” series with Newcastle United – click here to read from the beginning if you’ve not already done so 👌.
After fast-forwarding to the end of the 2019/2020 season, it’s time to see what state this club is in….17th last season having narrowly avoided relegation; 38 goals scored i.e. one goal per game; a goal difference of -26 overall…Steve Bruce has left some large boots to fill. Before we can even think about signing some players, a major upheaval of the backroom is needed to inject some new life into the dressing room – there are still some staff here that worked with Alan Pardew for crying out loud. We won’t go into too much detail on staff additions, but we’ve managed to bring in an absolute banger of an Assistant Manager in this writer’s humble opinion (writer’s note: not that humble).
Mike Ashley was once quoted as saying “I don’t have the cash to compete with top clubs”, and looking at Newcastle over the past few seasons one would easily be led to think that this isn’t a highly profitable and lucrative club. Now, granted this is a football simulation game but financially all is very much well on Tyneside and we won’t be overly worried about revenue or income during our time here (more so how we spend it).
Having said that – the gods of FM seem to be in our favour as we commence our empire at St. James Park – news items like these sometimes have to be taken with a pinch of salt and we have been heartbroken previously, however………
Safe to say I’ve never achieved one of my FM goals by the second blog post – however as one of our objectives for this save is to get a takeover or die trying (see here for more detail), the sun is suddenly shining in the North of England – let’s get down to business 😎💻.
Speaking of save objectives (seriously, read them!) – as a lifelong Newcastle fan since the early 90’s and therefore through the better times for Geordie fans, we intend to recreate history on Tyneside not just through victory and success on the field but by reanimating some of the more legendary Newcastle players who not only wore the black and white jersey with pride but left their own memorable stamp and legacy behind with the club and fans alike. Earlier we identified 5 Toon icons whom we will honour and take inspiration from by using them as a basis for our first transfers at the club by trying to identify their modern day counterparts based on their nationality, playing position and FM attributes – here is a reminder of who they are courtesy of some assistance from Championship Manager 97/98 and 01/02 to help us on our way (shout out to @maffyou for supplying us with some quality screenshots), and how we did in terms of finding a modern day FM counterpart for each.
Criminally underrated by many, Nolberto Solano was tactically and technically outstanding as well as being a set-piece maestro and excellent crosser of the ball. Are we really going to find a Peruvian FM20 version of this legend? Enter Cristian Benavente – a verstatile Attacking Midfielder who although not as strong in terms of crossing and set-pieces, will bring additional speed and flair to the team especially if covering for the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron and also has outstanding technical and dribbling skills. A bargain for £550K in this writer’s opinion.
Famous for “that goal” against Man. Utd, that photo with Juninho and of course one of the most glorious moustaches the Premier League has ever seen, Philippe Albert was an ever present during Kevin Keegan’s entertainer years as Newcastle Manager, and Belgium hadn’t seen a finer Centre Half until the emergence of one Vincent Kompany a few years back. Can we top that?
At just 20 years old Zinho Vanheusden (can I just call him Millhouse?) looks like he could have a big future at the club, and will arguably be the main character in Belgium’s World Cup 2022 back line with the likes of Toby Alderweireld (31) and JanVertonghen (33) not getting any younger. We briefly looked at the likes of Jason Denayer and Leander Dendoncker, however once this guy appeared it was a no-brainer and he will hopefully be worth the £16,000,000 transfer fee (50% paid up front) given to Standard Liege for his signature.
Granted I have included Shay in this list for two reasons – (1) I am Irish and (2) I have already known who I would sign to fill his gloves since early FM19 when I saw the emergence of Gavin Bazunu both in game and in real life as he featured for the Ireland U19 team. This kid oozes class, and the future of Irish football (at least between the posts) looks bright as he looks set to compete with the likes of Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool) and Mark Travers (Bournemouth) for that #1 jersey in years to come; there was only one winner in our decision making process and it took £9m (50% up front) to prize him from Manchester City which will either prove to be great value for money or absolute madness on my part. Time will tell!
Where to start with this lad…aside from having the ability to absolutely lose it during a goal celebration, Temur Ketsbaia made an instant impact on Tyneside coming from relative obscurity at AEK in Greece to lighting up the Premier League for three seasons at Newcastle at the end of the 1990’s. Never graced with much skill or pace, he knew where the goal was and was known to hit the odd thunderbastard from time to time. Will it even be possible to find such a player from Georgia in modern day FM?
Ok, so we had a slight hiccup in that the whole FM Brexit scenario made it next to impossible to sign a Georgian player. Initially we made moves for Giorgi Kharaishvili and Giorgi Chakvetadze however both moves were cancelled due to Work Permit issues – thankfully we came across Qazaishvili who also holds US citizenship and therefore was able to bluff his way past Boris’s cronies at the border. What I like about this guy is that he is both versatile and has great technical, first touch and dribbling ability – it remains to be seen if he can kick the shit out of an advertising hoarding as well as Ketsbaia #challengeaccepted.
Horses, guns, cartwheels and condoms – inbetween all that nonsense, “Tino” became a cult hero on Tyneside, largely helped by a hat-trick scored in a 3-2 victory over Barcelona in the 1997/1998 Champions League. It’s fair to say that there has never been a player like Tino Asprilla since he hung up his boots, and while we were tempted to lean towards the likes of Juan “Cucho” Hernandez and Luis Suarez (not that one) who both have Pace and Flair akin to what Tino was known for, it was impossible not to look past Alfredo Morelos who admittedly is not as creative or flamboyant as Asprilla, however arguably is equally as controversial and temperamental in addition to having bags of talent as a goal-scoring Striker.
And so completes our Famous Five and the start of our mission to recreate history at Newcastle – whether this lot can become as iconic as their predecessors is anyone’s guess, however we will battle on stubbornly in the hope that they can bring some magic and entertainment to this save and bring some well deserved success to the nostalgic Newcastle fans!
Amidst all this chaos, the rumour mill continues to churn:
Once I saw that comment about “reducing the focus on transfer activity” you better believe we accelerated the above signings rapidly, and just as we are coming to the end of our pre-season friendlies the news finally breaks:
WHAT THE ABSOLUTE F*CK….after all our hard work in putting transfer embargos in the FM editor, simming forward to the end of the season, building out our entire backroom staff and then spending hours trying to find a Peruvian Winger and a Georgian Forward…we could be about to lose our job in favour of Quique Sanches Flores who has had more management jobs than he’s had paellas after an afternoon siesta? Surely FM can’t do that to us – we’ve not even played a competitive fixture yet!
We are forced to play two friendlies during our tour of China (10-0 and 8-0 respectively) before finding out our fate…is this the end before we have even begun?
That was a bit too close for comfort! Hopefully our opening league game against Brighton won’t be as close, we will have to wait for my next post to find out where we will also look at the tactic we will employ for the 2020/2021 season as Newcastle Manager. Feel free to share your thoughts and feedback on our transfers below – have I squandered all our budget for the sake of a bit of NUFC nostalgia? 😅