We are back! Life, work and real-life footie have slightly derailed my FM20 playing time for the past two weeks, however some well overdue time-off has enabled us to get back on the proverbial horse in Fürth and ride on through Season 7 of what has been a thoroughly enjoyable, immersive and most importantly realistic save as we navigate through the dying embers of this year’s version of the game. With about 6 weeks remaining until FM21 is released (at the time of writing), we still have plenty of time during which our mission to qualify for the Champions League as well as unearth an Irish Newgen here in Germany are very much alive; there is also time for Ireland Manager Mick McCarthy to realise that at 68 years of age, retirement is surely beckoning so that MaddFM can swoop in and give the Boys in Green one last hurrah in a big tournament before we sign off from Football Manager 2020 forever.
Enough rambling – similar to how one can watch a 5 minute video to basically speed watch a series like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, here is a rapid 5 line reminder of where we are in this save so far to date:
1. After promotion as Champions from Bundesliga 2 to Bundesliga in our 2nd season at Greuther Fürth, we have finished 8th, 8th, 9th and most recently 6th last season which brought Europa League football to Fürth for the first time in our history.
2. The year is currently 2026, and after 10 games we sit in 11th place in the league and 2nd in our Europa League group behind leaders Everton after 3 games played .
November saw a marked improvement as we adjusted to the furore of two matches per week and trips to the bright lights of Merseyside, Brugge and Rome. The aforementioned Noel Bilic went into hyperdrive and alongside the likes of Alex Blesa and Pascal Le Lay we start to look a powerful force in the final third. Five wins and a draw mean we look a lot healthier in the league by the end of the calendar year, while in other news WE HAVE QUALIFED FOR THE EUROPA LEAGUE KNOCKOUT ROUND 🎉.
It’s at this point things usually take a turn for the worst – the German winter break arrives to put an end to our new found momentum, or so we thought…
Not only do we pick up 4 league wins (let’s not talk about the 6-2 hammering by Bremen) – we manage to top up our 1-1 draw away to Benfica with a 2-1 home win which puts us into the last 16 of the Europa League – the only issue as seems to be the case with the Bundesliga season after season is that when we win so too does everyone else around us and every defeat is extremely costly. By the time we experience a 2-0 away defeat to Bayern, we find ourselves back in 6th place with a lot to do if we are to play Champions League football next season.
Youth at Fürth
Seven seasons. Seven years during which we have not only failed to produce any wonderkids of real quality (though Zogiani looks decent), but have also failed in our quest to develop an Irish newgen at the club. Why bother you ask? Being honest – I just want to see if it can be done; if we as Managers can have any control on newgens and where they come from etc. So far we have had youth candidates from Turkey, Kosovo, Bosnia and Finland to name a few however producing an Irish newgen continues to elude us despite taking the following steps:
As another intake passes by with no sign of a newgen from the Emerald Isle, drastic measures are required. Having not changed our Director of Football or Technical Director upon arrival at Fürth (due to the fact that they are both club legends), strategic upheaval is need as we replace both with upgraded Irish versions:
From an affiliation perspective – our most recent activity means that we are now affiliated with three Irish clubs from each tier which are spread across the East, West and South of the country.
Short of playing friendlies there every year and going on tour etc – there’s really not much else we can do at this point to make ourselves more Irish! If it doesn’t happen next season, chances are it never will – where’s me lucky charms when I need them 🍀😄.
Come Fourth Fürth
12 games left to secure Champions League football next season, but first there’s the small matter of trying to secure a place in the Europa League Quarter Finals. Standing in our way are Dinamo Kiev who themselves have just sampled Champions League football before entering the Europa League after failing to qualify from their group – one would think these should be easier to over come than our previous opponents from Portugal..
We crash and burn at home losing 2-1 and a 0-0 stalemate in Ukraine kicks us firmly out of Europe. The optimist in me isn’t too bothered considering what’s at stake in the league, and simultaneously as you can see – our league form has been cracking as we pick up 6 wins and 2 draws including a spectacular comeback away to Dortmund in which we turned around a 1-0 deficit after 86 minutes! So tight is this league however that everyone around us seems to keep winning, and the four points dropped at home to Frankfurt and Dresden mean we sit in 5th position going into the final 3 games of the season, two points off the Champions League places – yes, this league really is that f*cking hard.
We need a few things to happen, mainly for Bayern and Leverkusen to somewhat self-destruct if we are to have a chance at getting a Champions League spot; considering one of the last 3 games is a 6 pointer between ourselves and Leverkusen, it’s all to play for and looks like it could go down to the wire with only 2 points separating 3rd and 5th.
After a hard earned draw against Leverkusen and an important win against Schalke, we went into the last game of the season needing a win against Mainz while hoping either Bayern or Leverkusen would drop points. They both did, but unfortunately so did we in tragic fashion as we ship 3 against Mainz to condemn ourselves to a 5th place finish – bettering our highest ever position last season (6th) but still somewhat deflating after playing extremely well in the second half of the season!! Once again our early season jitters proved to be very costly and even though the likes of Torres, Le Lay and Blesa were immense throughout as was Bilic who finally broke the 20 goal barrier, the fact of the matter remains that this league is extremely competitive and more reinforcements will be needed to break into the Top 4 of the Bundesliga.
Speaking of reinforcements – the first area that we will need to target is to replace Paul Seguin who at 31 decides to leave the club at the end of the season following 8 rock solid seasons during which he rarely scored below a 7 average rating.
As Vice-Captain he will be sorely missed in that pivotal Half-Back role, however as his attributes and performances began to decline the harsh reality is that an upgrade is needed; having received €67m in prize money for finishing 4th (€25m of which goes straight into our transfer budget) – I reckon we can allocate €15m-€20m of this towards his replacement as it is the main area that we need to improve in. As usual we face a standard MaddFM transfer dilemma: who would you choose? 👇👇 (please comment below – bear in mind one is Irish and probably much more affordable ;P).
Tune in next week to find out if we manage to land either as we enter Season 8 at the helm 😄.