Northern Boys – Part VIII
Greetings from the year 2026 where we are about to enter our sixth season of this Football Manager save adventure. Spain have just beaten England in the World Cup Final courtesy of an Ansu Fati winner, a Karim Adeyemi inspired Man City are Premier League Champions again following 3 years of dominance by Liverpool while PSG have finally been crowned Champions of Europe after beating Liverpool in a penalty shootout with Scotsman Aaron Hickey scoring the winning penalty for PSG after Joshua Kimmich missed Liverpool’s last spot-kick in Old Trafford of all places.
But that’s not why we are here. This story is all about Northern Boys, a North-East only save in which our mission since FM22 was released back in November 2021 is to fully transition a non-Saudi owned Newcastle United to a regional squad and transfer policy (i.e. local born/raised players only) as well as elevate football development and production across the North-East of England through our ties and investment in clubs from the surrounding area. Let’s see how we are getting on shall we?
One of our main goals is not only to elevate our youth production at Newcastle, but more specifically to increase the quality and quantity of local-born/raised Newgens coming through in the hope that at some point we see one or more of these turning out for England in the near future. Having had several references to the infamous “Golden Generation” by our Head of Youth Development, we are yet to see any real elite North-East Newgens emerge however what is pleasing is that a number of our own Newgens have evolved to become first team regulars in this Northern Boys side.
Josh Mellor ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Newcastle-born Josh Mellor has emerged our first-choice AMR since coming through our Youth Intake in Season 1. Left footed with decent speed and dribbling, he has taken well to life in the Championship contributing plenty of goals and assists where he is deployed as an Inverted Winger on the right-hand side of a 4 man midfield.
Fred Briggs ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Also Newcastle-born – Freddy Briggs originally came through in Season 2 as a DC/DMC but at 5’9″ we decided to retrain him as a Right Back where he usually features as an Inverted Wing Back adding an extra body to our two man central -midfield. Solid in the tackle with good Anticipation, Bravery, Decisions, Acceleration and Strength – he has become a fan favourite as well as being capped at England U21 level, with the only downside being his Natural Fitness is very poor and he often requires a rest during the 46 game season that is life in the Championship.
Gabriel Odumosu ⭐⭐⭐⭐
We were quite excited when this man came through the ranks being touted as the next Michael Owen, and though he is London-born he is a defacto Northern Boy having spent much of his younger years in the North-East. 18 goals in 21 games for our U18’s saw him promoted to the first team and though not really an out-and-out Striker (being retrained as an Inside Forward), and he will hopefully become an important squad player with potential to break into the first team this season.
Named as an Elite Youth Candidate when he came through in Season 3, we didn’t have much high hopes for the young French/Ghanian prospect looking at his defensive and technical attributes, however a lack of pace and agility in our back line forced our hand and he has sinced established himself as a first-choice centre-half at the club. Consistently averaging above 7.0, his development and value have dramatically increased with first-team football and at 18 has plenty of room to improve at least as a Championship player until we can hopefully push for promotion.
Willie Power ⭐⭐⭐
What can be said about Willie Power that hasn’t been said already! Though not a world-beater by any means, Willie has added an extra layer of entertainment and hope to this save so much so that the man even has his own tune and emotes on stream. We will be playing him in the Cups this season – let’s see if he can rise to the occasion 😄.
Northern Boys – Season 6
In my last post you learned of the disappointment we had in missing out on the Championship playoff spots courtesy of a 93rd minute Luton goal of all things, so Season 6 sees us again take this Northern Boys squad in the second tier of English football with high hopes of Premier League promotion. We have to right? Despite maintaining a very healthy bank balance (£116m) and transfer budget (£77m) – there are simply no North-East born/raised players out there good enough to improve our squad (any that are good enough aren’t interested in joining our Championship exploits) so for the first time in this save we make no new transfer additions with the exception of some players purchased from local clubs as part of our North-East investment (which we will talk about later).
Newcastle United Squad List 2026/2027
Goalkeepers: Bailey Peacock Farrell, Stuart Shaw*
Defenders: Dael Fry, Ben Gibson, Lewis Gibson, Mattie Pollock, Leif Davis, Fred Briggs*, Obeng Arthur*, Balli Mumba
Midfielders: Sean Longstaff, Lewis Wing, Shola Shoretire, Josh Mellor*, Elliott Embleton, Dan Barlaser, Matty Longstaff, Jacob Murphy, Gabriel Odumosu*, Taylor Taylor*.
Forwards: Adam Armstrong, Sam Greenwood, Joe Hugill, Willie Power*
Jump forward to November and it’s safe to say things are going fairly well…
Adam Armstrong starts the season like a house on fire with 14 goals in 15 games, with Shola Shoretire notching up 8 assists and even the aforementioned Willie Power getting in on the action with 4 goals in 2 games in the Carabao Cup. Our 4-4-2 formation seems to be ticking along nicely – we continue to concede goals, but in typical Entertainers style we are mostly outscoring our opponents and operation “get back to the Premier League and stop pricking around” is well underway.
December is a bit more rocky as we lose important games against Watford (twice), Barnsley and Brentford – all of whom are promotion rivals and all of whom start to pick up points as we in turn drop them. Though we aren’t playing our best, what they say about the Championship is certainly true – it has to be one of the toughest leagues out there. You would think we would be the strongest team in this division however it’s important to remember that we are still a North-East only side competing in a league where the teams are getting stronger each year; Adam Idah is on fire for Nottingham Forest and it’s between him, Juan Hernandez and Adam Armstrong to finish Top Scorer this season. Julian Alvarez (Leeds) has overtaken Shola Shoretire to top the Assists and Average Rating charts along with Ryan Gauld of Brentford and Forest’s Daniel Podence, how he has ended up in the Championship we will never know. We have also noticed that many of these sides are littered with Newgen Wonderkids on loan from the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd (a pleasure which we of course have denied ourselves in this save universe) and you can see clearly in the Match Engine that some of these lads are far too good for this division. Not to make too many excuses but overall THIS IS DIFFICULT – by the end of January the league is blown wide open with the top 6 teams all within 7 points of each other, and unfortunately we suddenly find ourselves 5th in that list with much to do as we enter the new year.
Let’s play a little game shall we?
Typical. Having scored 24 league goals making him Championship Top Scorer by a country mile, the FM gods intervene once again to rule him out for the rest of the season with a damaged achilles tendon. I mean, HE WAS JUST RUNNING. This is a huuge blow to proceedings having not even hit March yet, and all of a sudden our promotion surge has been dealt a massive blow with our hopes now lying with Joe Hugill and Sam Greenwood to bag the goals we need to seal promotion. This is not what we want at all..
Positively Joe Hugill scores in his first two starts of the Armstrongless era, however his absence is still very much felt as we only pick up one win in March and again start to concede stupid goals much to @Shrewnaldo‘s frustration (he really hates our defenders & rightly so). These dropped points mean that after 40 games and with 6 to play – our chances of automatic promotion are no longer in our hands, with a playoff spot looking to be our best chance at going up this season. I CAN’T F*CKING COPE.
Ok then. This is good. 3 games to go, 3 points off the automatic spots, a whole 7 points clear of Birmingham who sit just outside the playoff spots. We’ve had bottle jobs before but even the FM Gods can’t get us now surely….
This happened. Live on stream. We proceeded to lose our last 3 games meaning that all it would take to knock us out of the playoffs is for Birmingham to win their remaining 2 games after we handed them 3 points at home. Surely not. Not like this. NOT LIKE THIS.
EIGHT GOALS. EIGHT GOALS IN TWO GAMES. Our embarassing 4-1 defeat at home to Barnsley combined with Birmingham’s thrashing of Luton and Preston mean we end up missing out on the playoffs on goal difference, finishing 7th overall and once again we despairingly miss out on promotion for a second consecutive season. WHAT IN THE ABSOLUTE F*CK…….
Fast forward a few weeks to the time of writing….
Ok, so the dust has settled. That very nearly broke me in terms of my love for FM and my commitment to this save, so much so that I have barely touched the game since it happened. It’s not so much that I can’t deal with missing out on promotion, or plodding along in the Championship with this Northern Boys squad (I mean, our squad is probably Championship level in 2027). It’s more so the way in which this game has dealt us blow after blow, three seasons in a row crushing us on the last day of the season – there isn’t enough Guinness in the world! 😄 However, the more I recap on this save and all of our efforts in terms of the North-East project, our regional development efforts, the blog so far, seeing others replicate what we have now dubbed the “Regionnaire” challenge and in particular the amount of support and interest I have received from those of you who have been following, reading and watching live on stream – I am very much ready to get back on the horse and bring Northern Boys back to the stage starting with this blog post and continuing with more streams and more carnage in the North-East. What we can do however, is end this post on a positive note by reflecting on the impact our Regional Development has had so far.
We invest into North-East football development directly to clubs in the surrounding region via 4 main avenues:
- Player Signings (overly generous ones at that)
- Friendlies for cash (playing at their grounds so they get the revenue)
- Affiliations (annual fees paid to feeder clubs)
- Outgoing player sales/loans (i.e. from us to them through affiliations or targetted deals)
To date we have spent £58 million as part of our North-East development funding – granted, £26m of that is the signing of Elliott Embleton from Sunderland, however even when you remove that you can see how heavily we have invested and how this has quickly ramped up in recent seasons due to the extra cash we have lying around since selling all our non-North East players and having a relatively low net-spend each year. The important question though – has it made a difference? Let’s look at some of the things we have observed during this time, in particular some huge events that have happened this season alone:
South Shields (one of our 3 official affiliate clubs) have enjoyed back-to-back promotions in the past two seasons, winning the Vanarama National League North in 2026 and then winning the Vanarama National League straight away the following season! They will now play League 2 football next season – if they keep going at this rate we will meet them in the Championship before long 😄.
Hartlepool (another of our affiliated clubs) will also be enjoying League 2 football next year having been promoted via the playoffs behind South Shields, definitely benefitting from some of the cash and players we have sent their way over the past few seasons.
Blyth Spartans (our 3rd affiliate) have enjoyed promotion from Vanarama National League North on 2 occasions since becoming one of our feeder clubs, however have been relegated the following season on both occasions. Perhaps they need a bit more love from us next season ❤️
Spennymoor are on the rise and will play in the Vanarama National League after winning the VNL North this season, you best believe they will get some more attention from us going forward. Darlington were unlucky not to join them in the same season, narrowly losing in the playoff semi-final against eventual winners Boston Utd.
There you have it! All in all we have a hell of a lot going on – yet to see some genuine North-East wonderkids emerge from any of these clubs however we can definitley see an upward trajectory across the North-East after 6 seasons. Season 7 kicks off this week as we look to do somewhat of a rebuild of our squad and tactic, not to mention continued focus on our Youth and Regional Development plans. More to follow!
Thanks for reading,
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.