Wife’s gone to bed, its midnight, I’m exhausted, drained and stressed. I never expected a simulation to have this effect. For weeks now, my preparation work has consisted of drilling down and watching at least five matches of the opposition, different games, each time analysing how they score their goals, and making notes.
Then I’d scribble ideas down on how to maximise each players output in a game, if a side looked like they would patiently build up, I’d focus on how I’d nullify their best passers. If a team were deadly in set pieces, I’d focus on which of my players would take the field. Gone was any thought on player development. We were close, very close, unexpectedly close.
Everton had kicked us out of the FA Cup, 3 corners , 3 goals. They were deadly in set pieces, and in FM thats really hard to counter. There was very little we could do, so I made sure the players with the best anticipation would start the game. We went for height, jumping, marking. This was going to be a brutal contest. If we slipped up, at any time, United would overhaul us. Like us, they had a bad December, but since the turn of the year, the foot was on the pedal. I’m getting a stress headache, the kind that pulsates incessantly, a throbbing pain growing around your temple that threatens to be a an everlasting partner.
The work’s done, its 1am.
29 minutes in Atsu scores for Everton off a counter, I can feel the title slipping away, we’re playing well, but the Toffees are just better.
We go into the break, and I give my players a tongue lashing, they haven’t exactly been working their socks off, we can salvage this.
47 minutes- Coleman has the ball on the right flank, Everton are camping in our half, he has Naismith in the box waiting for a cross, but he’s being guarded by Lescott and Olsson. Neither of them will be in the side next season, so I’m hoping they turn in a great performance. Our halfback hustles to Coleman, as he tries to cut in, nicks the ball off him lays it off to our fullback, who sends a heat seeker up field over the entire midfield into the path of Ideye. He holds play up expertly as WBA regroup, 3 passes later, Berhahino pops up late in the box and levels the match.
In what can only be termed a calamity, Howard later fumbles a simple clearance and we nick another. I change our tempo, get my players to play more direct and push them higher up the pitch. 87 minutes in a corner, we score. WBA 3-1Everton. 3 games left 2 points clear at the top.
We grind out a 1-0 win against Leicester playing a 4312 and defending with a 4132 once the goal is scored and then put 3 past Stoke in one of our best displays of defensive football all season long. Our final match an away game against DOOMED Crystal Palace, they are going down if they get at least a point. They need to win. OMG. Why does this have to be our last match.
I decide to take a defensive posture, Palace will come out and attack us and we can try and score off the break
5 mins in they score off a corner
24 mins in we level off a free kick, both sides go into the break tied.
75 mins in we concede a penalty they score. 15 minutes left on the clock, the game turns into a slugfest as both sides throw caution to the wind. We have 4 shots on target, none count,
84 minutes in Rubio scores a beauty from the edge of the box, we throw everything at them, they are hoping to score off the counter, but neither side score. I look over and find out that Manchester United have clobbered Swansea 3-0 to take the title on the last day of the season.
I’m a spent force, I have no clue how my player development has progressed, 5 of my players want to leave the squad, I can think of 6 who need to go, we came close so very close. For the first time since 2001, I have failed to win the title in my debut season. FM15 has won, but only just.
When I took over at WBA, the board had expectations of a respectable finish in the top half, Europa league was one of the options I could have chosen as a target, so its not unreasonable to expect that we had a title charge. If I had done this with the Hoops then I would have just called this a broken game, but it took a lot of sweat to get this far with WBA, flipping tactics, chopping and changing things in game. Was it worth it? Hell ya.
6am. I go to work in an hour.
Club DNA is the building block of success Before you can turn your team into a billion dollar club, before you can even consider winning titles, if you haven’t thought [...]