So, Football Manager mobile is pretty fast paced, which means I had to take a break from my Villarreal save for a couple days so that the games completed wouldn’t outstrip the articles up on the site by too much. In the intervening time I started a save with Sunderland in the English third tier, and I learned some things (and earned my gold coaching qualification). So bear with me as we rock the boat a bit, and trust the process.
The Transfer Window
Sitting in fourth in La Liga, most managers wouldn’t change their entire style of play during January, but that’s exactly what we’re gonna do. We want to get faster, more athletic, and we want to press and keep our opponents on their heels. With this in mind we sold Carlos Bacca, as planned, which not only boosted our transfer fund but also freed up a lot of salary space. He now plays for Fulham who are desperately trying to survive in the English Premier League. Then a very unexpected thing happened. Bournemouth came in with a solid bid for Bruno. I was hesitant to accept it, but I didn’t use Bruno in my old system and I new I wasn’t going to use him in my new one, so he might as well get playing time in England.
I also loaned out Moi Gomez and Gerard Moreno. Moi I plan on using next season, Gerard isn’t athletic enough to keep up in our new system. I brought in three new loanees, not paying more than half the wages of any of them. Justin Kluivert (can play both wings), Ade Lookman (can play both wings and striker) and Phil Foden (central mid) will all join us for the rest of the year. I also paid 18m for Rob Holding, which gives me some longer term solidity at CB.
In one other piece of business, we gave Santi Cazorla a place on the coaching staff. He’s still playing as well, but I’m hoping this keeps him with the club long term. (For the old heads, Quique Alvarez is also on the staff.)
Okay, if I blow up my roster mid-season and totally change the style of play, I better get some results right? In our first match, a heavily rotated side took care of Grove in the cup 3-0. Then we go to the Wanda to face Atleti. As you’ll remember, we lost the reverse fixture at home 4-2 in a game we deserved a result in. Joao Felix opened the scoring in the 55’ but Justin Kluivert drew us level, and our talisman Karl Toko Ekambi got an incredible winner in the 83’ minute.
Riding high off this win I felt invincible, so naturally we drew Leganes in our next match (the virtual Barcelona did not steal Martin Braithwaite) at home. A rotated sided pummeled Ponferrada in the Copa, and then we got Sevilla at home.
You’ll remember that when we played at Sevilla earlier this season, it was an incredibly dull 0-0 draw. That said, if our new pressing style was gonna work against anyone in the league, I was very confident it would bring a result against Julen Lopetegui’s men. A Toko hat trick, and goals from Ontiverors, Foden, and Lookman later and we had obliterated Sevilla 6-1. How’s that for a result the fans will remember?
Defeating Leganes in the Cup, drawing Levante 3-3 (AGAIN) and beating Alaves and Betis in the league bring us to the Copa Del Rey semi-final against Real Madrid. In the first leg, on the road, we thoroughly outperformed Zidane’s men, having 63% of the possession, 4x the number of shots, and winning 33 tackles... so naturally we lost 1-0.
Can we overturn the deficit? We’re six points clear in fourth place, so things look very good in the league, but we are so close to silverware in the Copa it would be devastating to team morale if we couldn’t pull off the remontada.
So, what do you think?
Would you have sold Bruno to Bournemouth? Have the results justified the upheaval of rostre and play style mid season? Can we come back against Real Madrid and will we make the Champions League?