“JOHN WRIGHT IS A CHIEF” – MaddFM, Northern Boys 2024.
Welcome back! It’s been a while since we caught up on all things Northern Boys here largely down to the fact that I was overseas for a bit and have been quite busy streaming this save over at Twitch.tv/MaddFM in-between. That said, blogging is still very much at the heart of this save and a hell of a lot has been going on – strap in, things are about to get wild.
Season 4 – Northern Boys
As you may remember from our intro post all the way back in November – the goal of this save is to fully transition Newcastle to a North-East only player and staff policy within our first season, meaning this season is our last in terms of clearing the decks and fully migrating to become North-East only ahead of Season 5. Having finished 9th in the league last season to earn a hefty £25m in prize money (and very nearly qualifying for Europe) – we now find ourselves armed with a £71m transfer budget having sold Jamal Lewis to Bournemouth for £21m and Isaac Hayden to Norwich for £11m..might this be the time we make some big #NorthernBoys transfers? 👀
Having finished ahead of Everton last season I had hoped we might be able to sway Jordan Pickford, however seemingly he is afraid to set foot in Newcastle following his Sunderland history – Giovanni Reyna must be the same (born in Sunderland while his father Claudio played there) but is too afraid to admit it 😄. That means there aren’t a whole lot of North-East players readily available that are either interested or better than what we have already, however we do manage to find a couple of Northern Boys that can add to this team and bolster our squad depth accordingly.
Perhaps even more epic on the Northern Boys front – we also make a huuge staff addition with local lad Michael Carrick returning to Tyneside as a Coach after he left Manchester United in the Summer. Maybe he can be persuaded to come out of retirement? 😄
One last addition to speak of before we proceed. After starting to stream this save following prolonged periods of Covid & Christmas induced FM game-time – a wonderful chap by the name of @kc87bw arrives in chat one day with a kind offer to design some new retro kits for us as we approach the full transition to North-East only. Needless to say, we did not decline and more importantly, he did not disappoint..
Newcastle United Squad List 2024/2025
Goalkeepers: Bailey Peacock Farrell*, Mark Gillespie*.
Defenders: Dael Fry*, Ben Gibson*, Lewis Gibson*, Mattie Pollock*, Leif Davis*, Nathan Wood*
Midfielders: Jonjo Shelvey, Sean Longstaff*, Joe Willock, Matty Longstaff*, Jacob Murphy*, Allan Saint-Maximin, Shola Shoretire*, Miguel Almiron, Elliott Anderson*
Forwards: Callum Wilson, Adam Armstrong*, Sam Greenwood*, Joe Hugill*, Michael Smith*
Away We Go 🚀
Not the start we had planned. Granted, signings-wise it’s not been our greatest season however having finished 9th last season and the likes of Shola Shoretire, Sam Greenwood and Joe Hugill all improving year-on-year I had thought we were definitely on an upward trajectory at the club. Not only did it take us 14 games to get 3 points on the board, it wasn’t until the Leeds game that Adam Armstrong finally picked up his first goal of the season in a game that saw us equalise in the 93rd minute before Callum Wilson netted a 95th minute winner. HUGE.
The following game saw us go 2-0 up against Arsenal within 15 mins in a batshit crazy game that saw us 4-2 down at half time and lose 5-3 overall despite having a 4.33 XG against Arsenal’s 2.45! Having said that, one could feel a newfound sense of belief in the squad which translated into 3 wins on the bounce against Crystal Palace, Brighton and Aston Villa. This is where you feel you’ve hit the turning point in FM, right?
We hit yet another barren run. 8 games without a win, 3 goals scored and we are in big big trouble in Season 4 of Northern Boys. We are officially in a relegation battle. This is not good – bearing in mind that next season will be our first full season as a North-East only team, getting relegated in our last season with the likes of Wilson, Willock and Allan Saint-Maximin still in the squad is simply not an option. For the first time in this save we are truly in danger of facing the sack and the end of #NorthernBoys before it has officially begun – time for drastic action.
If we wind back the clock to the beginning of the save, one of our rules was that we could bring in up to two non-North East loans per season until the 4 year transition is complete. We have only done this twice so far – bringing in Antonio Sanabria in Season 1 (after Callum Wilson broke his leg) and then loaning Devyne Rensch in Season 3 to provide cover at right-back. With the amount of goals we are conceding combined with the lack of creativity up front – we swallow our pride to bring in two loan signings, William Saliba and Pedro Neto who will hopefully make an instant impact this season. January also sees Jonjo Shelvey make a random move to Malaga, so we also add one more Northern Boy to our ranks in 29-year-old Lewis Wing, who is a bit of a long-shot/free-kick specialist and will be a good replacement for Jonjo in terms of ball distribution and set-piece delivery.
The impact was instant if you count a 1-0 win over Bournemouth as an achievement, however things continued to worsen as the defeats just kept on coming – losing 4 on the bounce before a couple of well-earned draws against Man City and Arsenal.
8 games to go and well, see for yourself….
By this point we have been summoned to the boardroom no fewer than 5 times, each time convincing our esteemed chairman Joe Ordiman to Trust the Process and that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Let’s hope he doesn’t read the newspapers…
Five games. Five games to secure Premier League survival. Five games to ensure we don’t get the sack and have this save come crashing to an end just at the point where it’s actually getting interesting. How have we gotten here? It all comes down to this…
Game 1 – Crystal Palace (h)
Game 2 – Aston Villa (h)
Game 3 – Burnley (h)
Game 4 – Chelsea (a)
Game 5 – Wolves (a)
Relegated. Bottom of the league. Absolutely mudded. How we have managed to go from 9th to 20th in one season is beyond me. Despite putting up somewhat of a fight all other results go against us, and a comeback charge against Wolves on the final day was not enough as we are consigned to 20th place in the 2024/2025 Premier League season. We did not see this coming, and at that exact moment we were braced for the sack and the end of Northern Boys as we know it…dare we enter the boardroom where our fate awaits us?
Madness. Despite relegating the club and finishing bottom, big Joe Ordiman still trusts the process and is willing to give us another go, so much so that we even manage to secure a new contract as we mentally prepare for life in the Championship next season. Just 12 months ago we were cursing our luck about not getting into Europe, how quickly life can change! What we do know is that it’s time to officially complete our transition to a North-East only team, which means we will commence life in the Championship with a 100% North-East only squad and backroom staff at the club. Maybe it’s a good thing? What the hell are we going to do with all this? 😅
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.