Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light..
Here we are. After 8 seasons, 16 blog posts, one promotion, one Europa League final and an abundance of gifs, Irish references and forced wordplay blog post titles – we enter our final season at Greuther Fürth as FM20 draws to a close in advance of the next iteration of this magnificent football management simulation game.
We started this save back in June 2020 (IRL of course) with the sole mission of kickstarting an Irish revolution in the Bavarian city of Fürth in Germany, instigated by the fictional takeover of the club by Irish legend Niall Quinn who has remained as our fearless leader for the past 8 seasons.
Our save goals were fairly straightforward however we are still to cross off a few objectives – with one season remaining, time is most definitely against us however overall we have had a highly successful career at the Kleeblätter and I can say without any doubt that this has been my favourite ever Football Manager save in my 25 years of playing since the days of Championship Manager 2 which I nicked off a mate and still have never returned to this day.
Create an Irish revolution at Greuther Fürth ✔️
In addition to our esteemed Chairman, so far to date we have brought in 12 Irish players, more than 30 Irish Backroom Staff, created affiliations with 4 Irish clubs, played 11 friendlies against Irish teams and completed 3 training camps in Ireland.
Make Greuther Fürth an established Bundesliga side and qualify for Europe for the first time in the club’s history ✔️
Only buy players under the age of 25, and free transfers under the age of 30 ✔️
Ferran Torres, Nicola Armini, Joe Hodge, Maxence Caqueret, Noel Bilic, Pascal Le Lay, Ryan Porteous – just some of the names we’ve managed to bring in and despite having limited cash at times, we have managed to avoid signing any ringers or free agents over the age of 30, – possibly to our detriment but there’s nothing more stubborn than an Irishman blogging about a Football Manager game.
Develop an Irish Newgen from the Greuther Fürth youth academy ❌
We have failed 8, yes 8 times in our quest to develop an Irish Newgen from our own academy. Despite having an Irish Director of Football, Head of Youth Development, Scouting Team, Youth Management team and now 4 affiliations with Irish clubs based on youth recruitment – we are still yet to produce an Irish Newgen after seeing graduates from Finland, Denmark, Kosovo, Poland and even Northen Ireland most recently last season. Having worked tirelessly each season to see if this can actually be done in the game to no avail and with no further options available, I have pretty much given up on this objective. Conclusion:we can’t influence youth candidate nationalities in Football Manager (at least not in 8 seasons) 😔.
Get the Ireland job and take them to a major tournament ❌
There are three certainties in life: Death, Taxes and Mick McCarthy. The year is now 2027, and despite only qualifying for one major tournament since he started the role in 2019, the sweet talking 69 year old silver fox is still at the helm of the biggest job in Irish football, with MaddFM eagerly waiting in the wings for a chance at taking Ireland to a major tournament. His job has never been Insecure and it looks like this is a save goal which will also elude us as we enter our last season of FM20 😤.
Show me the money?
In my last post, we had just finished in 4th place in the Bundesliga sealing a Champions League qualification place while also narrowly losing our first ever Europa League Final in a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal (I say narrow – they hammered us everywhere except the scoreline). With prize money of €86 million earned for our highest ever league finish, the Kleeblätter faithful are looking forward to a summer spending spree as we gear up for Champions League football…or are they?
€7 million. €7 million for an overachieving club that have been punching above their weight for several seasons and are now expected to mount a Champions League campaign with what is a talented but equally young and relatively thin squad. Granted we can try to do some manouvering with our budgets and stretch it, but in the year 2027 €12 million won’t get you far..
Last season we conceded 37 goals, the highest in the Bundesliga Top 10. Our main Centre Back pairing has been Nicolo Armini and Scott McKenna with Ryan Porteous providing cover, however with McKenna now 31 and Porteous having begun the inevitable decline now that he is 29 years of age, our main priority is a Centre Back and most importantly one with pace as Armini isn’t necessarily the quickest when tracking back. Did someone say Italian Centre Back pairing? 🔥🔥
Roberto Pesenti arrives from AC Milan for €11 million – that’s almost all of our budget, however if he can partner well with Armini it might give us that extra layer of solidity at the back which will be essential if we are to survive the Champions League. The 90’s called – they want their Italian Centre Half pairing back 😆.
With little or nothing left in the bank, we need to improvise. Kane Ritchie-Hosler arrives on a free transfer after his contract ends at Rangers to provide backup for Ferran Torres on the right side of our attacking three, while on the other side real life PSG academy player Mergim Ramadani arrives on loan from Aston Villa to provide cover for Luca Connell – both are lightening fast and will be valuable options from a bench that can contain 9 named substitutes in the Bundesliga.
At this point we almost have cover in every position except at Left Back where Marko Djira is currently our first and only option, operating as a LWB Attack overlapping Luca Connell who plays as an Inverted Winger which allows for Djira to push higher up the field. While searching through various options focusing on Acceleration and Pace, we happen to stumble across a former colleague of ours with whom we unfortunately had a bit of a tiff back in Season 5 when he refused to sign for us permanently after 3 seasons on loan with us.
Have bridges been burned, or might we perhaps be able to lure George Bello back to Bavaria? Atlanta don’t want him go go out on loan – can Chairman Niall Quinn be guilted into parting with a little bit more of that sweet sweet €86 million prize money we handed him a few weeks back?
Although a bit steep for €10 million, the arrival of Bello means that for the first time in this save we have a full backup XI in every position. Since we started playing in Europe, the strain of 40+ games each season has been evident on the squad and hopefully this will counteract the renowned “continental hangover” (writer’s note: it’s the hangovers after the Irish Cottage pub in Fürth you need to worry about).
We are almost ready to kick off Season 9 and our last season of this save, however before we can do that there is the small matter of finding out who we will face in the Champions League Group Stages for the first time in the club’s history:
More FM poetic narrative as we get an opportunity for revenge over Arsenal for that Europa League final defeat last season, while trips to Madrid and St. Petersburg will certainly prove challenging regardless of how big our squad is. I fear our Champions League debut may not last very long 🤦♂️
Let’s play some football shall we?
An 11-0 cup win over Meiendorf possibly led to a complacent start to the league with a 3-3 draw away to Augsburg, however apart from that we began Season 9 in the Bundesliga reasonably well – 6 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats left us in 4th position after 10 games, while in Europe our CL group is as difficult as expected with defeats against Arsenal and Atletico either side of a dominant 4-0 victory over Zenit.
Fast forward to Christmas and we’ve managed to climb to 3rd in the league – imagine if we could better last season’s 4th place finish in our last year at the club! (writer’s note: don’t count your chickens). Unfortunately this is offset by a Champions League exit at the first time of asking – despite holding Atletico to a draw at home, we lost 2-1 to Arsenal and finish with a 1-1 draw in a what we thought was a meaningless game in Ukraine until afterwards when we realise that point ensures we qualify for the Europa League Knockout round! Could we get to the final for a second consecutive season and even become the German Sevilla? #EuropaLeagueForLife
It’s at this point we are greeted with some truly Fürth-shattering news (writer’s note: another pun, seriously?). For those of you that don’t pay heed to these things – December is when we are presented with our first preview of the annual youth intake and after 8 extremely unremarkable intakes previously, we prepare to be disappointed as per usual.
I DON’T F*CKING BELIEVE IT. Being honest I had given up hope and somewhat forgotten about our youth intake especially knowing that this is our last season at the club. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!! Not only do we receive the news that we finally have an Irish player breaking through the ranks (and is potentially the strongest of our intake), but said player is also from Galway. Why is this relevant?
The logical side of me knows that the main reason for this must be our affiliations with two Galway based clubs (Salthill and Mervue), however we can’t help but wonder…might we be lucky enough to get a son in Football Manager? I wrote about this last year during my Tenerife save and apparently the odds are something like 10,000/1 of it happening…one can only dream of how epic it would be for this to occur in our final season. Galway isn’t overly known for it’s footballing exports however in recent years we have seen the likes of David Forde, Greg Cunningham, Daryl Horgan, Ryan Manning and Aaron Connolly all playing at the highest level of English football…are we on the verge of adding a name to that list?
January is silly season.
Both of these players were signed on Free Transfers over the past couple of seasons. Now, I know what you’re thinking – €135 million profit, right? Normally I’d be with you, however considering this is our last season, that we only receive 60% of transfer revenue and that Le Lay would directly receive €17m due to a sell-on clause in his contract – we turn down PSG’s offer much to Niall Quinn’s dismay (imagine the tab down at the Irish Cottage pub) however to keep him sweet we accept the bid for Matias Palacios and he heads for the bright lights of China. That leaves us with a gap in our Attacking Midfield cover with only a few days remaining in the transfer window, so we decide to shop a bit more locally for a proven Bundesliga talent who is one of those players that I feel has scored against us every time we’ve played against them.
So Palacios out, Kang-In…in. Here’s hoping he can make as big an impact on the pitch as he does in shirt sales 🤞.
We explode into January picking up three league wins on the bounce against Mainz, Augsburg and BMG respectively, followed up by a well earned draw with league leaders Bayern courtesy of a brace from Noel Bilic who hasn’t been half as prolific as last season. 20 games in and we are up to 2nd, level on points with Dortmund! Unfortunately this is short lived as we stumble through February without picking up a win in the league, followed by two draws and a win in March – so much for avoiding the continental hangover. After beating SlaviaPrague in the 1st Knockout Round, two tough games against Napoli who we manage to overcome narrowly on away goals seem to take their toll on our league form.
Children are the future..
The moment of truth…9 seasons of blood, sweat, tears and shithousery trying to manipulate this game into producing an Irish newgen in Germany. 9 seasons trying to get this team up to scratch with a squad and backroom staff dominated by Irish folk, making our coaching and recruitment that bit more limited as we avoided some of the stronger staff available from other countries in the hope that it will make a difference. It all boils down to this – are we to have a son in Football Manager? Will this save produce another landmark moment? How ridiculous will the player look if “FM” is his surname?!!
To make up for the disappointment of not getting a son, the Gods of FM generously grace us with not one but TWO newgens from the Emerald Isle. We went 8 seasons without a sniff of an Irish youth candidate and suddenly we now have two in our academy 🥳. Centre-Half Michael Whelan is the Galway born candidate who looks like he might have a bit of potential quality about him regardless of his star rating, and he is joined by Dubliner Martin Cleary who also might turn into a decent Striker in a few years to come..
Again – I know what you’re thinking…
I mentioned Sevilla previously – FM gives us yet another sliver of #narrative as we are drawn against them in the Europa League Quarter Final. Part of me is wondering whether it’s worth advancing considering the impact it seems to have had on our league form, but being only 3 games from a trophy in our last season is a mouth-watering prospect…
Speaking of league form:
Not only do we overcome Europa League merchants Sevilla by a singe solitary goal, we go on a banging league run at just the right time picking up 5 wins and a draw in April – Gavin Bazunu absolutely smashing the clean sheets record, I’ll miss him in FM21!! (homegrown French save planned, sorry Gav). The only low point is Tottenham effectively knocking us out of Europe with a disappointing 3-0 demolition in our own back yard in what was our 48th competitive game of the season – safe to say the boys are knackered and the end of season can’t come quick enough (writer’s note: did you forget it’s your last season?!).
Said banging run brings us back up to 3rd place this time with RBL hot on our heels with a game in hand, and with a slightly better goal difference we will need them to drop points if we are to have any hope of bettering last seasons 4th place finish.
The Final Fürlong
I was dreading the trip to London after the 3-0 drubbing we were given by Tottenham, however we do ourselves proud in the second leg holding them to a 1-1 draw so not a bad way to bow out of Europe overall. We are left with two final games in which our fate will be sealed and this save will be wrapped up for all eternity. We need to win both games against Hoffenheim and Mainz to give ourselves a chance of finishing ahead of RBL, while they themselves have to overcome Schalke and BMG following their game-in-hand victory over Augsburg. Is there to be one final twist in this epic adventure to help us finish this save with a bang?
Despite winning our penultimate game, we end up running completely out of steam and sadly are condemned to defeat in our last ever game as Greuther Fürth Manager. RBL’s back to back victories make it a little bit easier to take, and overall we can hold our heads high with a second consecutive 4th place finish in the Bundesliga, netting the club a cool €89 million and bagging Champions League football again in the process. We leave a hell of a legacy at the Kleeblätter, taking them from the depths of mid-table mediocrity in Bundesliga 2 all the way to a Europa League final and Champions League football as well as firmly establishing the club as top tier Bundesliga side capable of competing with the likes of Bayern, Dortmund and RBL year on year. All that is left to do is type up our resignation letter before officially retiring from this save, from Fürth and from Football Manager 2020 for good…
Phone beeps…… ((📞)) ((📞))
Surely you cannot be serious…the unthinkable has happened. He’s finally done it. MICK HAS RETIRED! Literally in the 11th hour of this save’s life cycle, Big Mick has finally decided to call it a day after failing to qualify for Euro 2028 and struggling his way through a few friendlies since…obviously our work is done in Fürth and we are just about ready to bid farewell to FM20, however this revelation means that our last unfulfilled objective is now in play. Surely we have to go for it and give one last hoorah by succeeding where Mick failed and lead Ireland to success in a major tournament, assuming they will give it to me of course…
And so – we will finish up Football Manager 2020 by seeing if we can take Ireland to World Cup 2030 which will be held in Spain – Camp Nou, Bernabeu, Mestalla, one can only dream. Short and sweet – we will bid farewell to Fürth as planned and then holiday straight to the qualifiers to see if we can make history for the Boys in Green. If you’ve stayed with me this far, why not take a couple of steps further and head over to this bonus post to see how our noble quest fairs out…..
For now – it’s Auf Wiedersehen to our friends in Fürth, thanks for the memories and apologies again for all the wonderful terrible wordplays throughout. From researching Irish connections in the city (mainly the Irish pub) to landing their beautiful home kit online via the Greuther Fürth merchandise store, the Fürth is well and truly with us ⚔️.
Thanks for reading, especially those of you that have followed and supported the blog all the way through on this journey (you know who you are). Roll on FM21 and more of my ramblings – you’ve been warned!
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.