Welcome back to Season 3 of Northern Boys, a Newcastle save like no other whereby all the Saudi millions have been removed from game and we embark on a quest to convert the mighty Toon Army to a North-East only squad, staff and transfer policy within 4 seasons at the helm. We don’t ask for much right? (click here to relive our journey up to now).
Transfer Talk 🗣️
When we last left off, we had just finished 15th in Season 2, somewhat narrowly avoiding relegation and finding ourselves armed with a £52 million transfer budget due to our low net transfer spend as well as the windfall of Premier League prize and TV money alike. Remember – this is Northern Boys, we can only spend this cash on players that were born or raised in the North-East meaning pickings are quite slim as we await the fateful day when the likes of Giovanni Reyna, Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford show any shred of interest in joining the club. Having said that, there is progress to be made and a familiar face from the very top of our eligible Transfer Target pool arrives at St. James Park to become our biggest signing of the save so far.
Having spent half of last season on loan with us before Man Utd recalled him due to us not playing him in his natural position Ole Gunnar Soskjaer being a moany twat, Newcastle-born wonderkid Shola Shoretire puts pen to paper on a £36 million deal (£18m up front) to become our record Northern Boy signing ahead of Adam Armstrong (Southampton – £28m). Still only 18, Shola will have a huge part to play in this adventure and is definitely a coup for the club considering the calibre of North-East players available and interested in joining. Shola is joined by Darlington-born goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell who arrives on a cut-price £250k deal from Burnley – a deal that could prove to be a bargain, hoping he can compete with an aging Fraser Forster for the #1 jersey at Northern Boys.
Season 3 🚀
After playing 10 away friendlies with some of our North-East neighbours in order to boost their own finances (more on this later), overconfidence from scoring 55 goals must have crept in as we started the season somewhat horrendously, winning just one game in six including home league defeats to West Ham, Chelsea and Aston Villa not to mention a pathetic exit from the Carabao Cup at home to West Brom. I should also mention this all unfolded live on stream (Twitch.tv./MaddFM) and morale was well in the mud, and then something magical happened.
Through some sort of divine miracle, we proceeded to beat Man City in the Etihad before beating Arsenal at home and going on a 7 match unbeaten run to leave us in 7th place in the league with 12 games played. WE ARE MASSIVE.
Unfortunately Christmas did not produce any further miracles as we suffered 4 defeats during a busy December followed by an even busier January which also saw us exit the FA Cup at the hands of lowly Peterbrough, and a further 3 defeats in February saw us drop to 9th place in the league.
This called for some action to be taken. Having failed to sign him in Season 1 when we were beaten to his signature by Tottenham, we complete the loan signing of Middlesbrough born right-back Nathan Wood until the end of the season with Ben Gibson failing to cut the mustard in that position. We also lose patience with 35-year-old Fraser Forster and make a live stream decision to make Bailey Peacock-Farrell our #1 keeper for the foreseeable future. These signings seemed to inject a lease of new life into our squad, starting with a solid 1-1 draw with Liverpool before going on to win 3 on the bounce including the following:
That meant with just 3 games remaining, we suddenly found ourselves on the brink of European qualification (not to mention picking up our first ever Manager of the Month award) – far earlier than expected having finished 16th and 15th in the previous two seasons and with a predicted 18th placed finish this season. Surely it’s too soon for European football at Northern Boys?????
We fought admirably but it just wasn’t to be, the draw with Leeds making Spurs a must-win which was always going to be a huge ask away from home. In the end we finished 9th which in itself was a huge achievement considering our primary goal for the first 4 seasons is to avoid relegation and keep hold of our job while we transition to a fully North-East club culture and policy!!
£23m prize money means the board are most certainly happy with our performance even if we are Overachievers, and the sale of Jamal Lewis to Bournemouth (£21m) brings our budget up to a whopping £71m for next season. Safe to say everyone is having a good time in the North-East…well, almost everyone…
We continue our efforts to develop football in the North-East of England, primarily focusing on improving the clubs around us by injecting cash into their economies through friendlies and generous transfer fees, as well as by loaning them players regularly each season.
Having agreed official affiliations with Blyth, Hartlepool and South Shields we were pleased to see Blyth get promoted to the Vanarama National LEague last season along with another Northern club, Gateshead. Unfortunately Blyth found life difficult in the next tier and were relegated again (along with Gateshead and Darlington) so drastic was action needed – we dropped £1m each to Blyth, Hartlepool and South Shields as well as another £1.5m across a few others which will hopefully give them a swift impetus to develop and ascend with a bit more haste than as has been the case up to now.
In terms of Youth Development in the North-East – while our Season 3 intake wasn’t great, our exploration of North-East player development unearthed THE BEST 15-YEAR-OLD LEFT BACK YOU WILL EVER SEE.
We naturally swoop in like the Billy Big-Bollocks North-East kings we are and have an £11m bid accepted…
Turns out John “The Chief” Wright is Sunderland until he dies and refuses to move despite several attempts and bids accepted. Absolute CHIEF. We won’t rest easy – let the @FridayNightFM pursuit begin…
Want to get involved and/or get real-time updates or sneak previews? I’ll be posting regular updates in the MaddFM Discord server as well as on FMSlack (#MaddFM) so feel free to drop by and keep an eye out. You can also catch me streaming occasionally on Twitch.tv/MaddFM as well as most Mondays on 5* Star Potential, your weekly Football Manager podcast.