FM Journeys: Bye, bye FM22
Hi there! When last we met, I’d just left my multiple title winning Aston Villa team in pursuit of a new challenge. That new challenge turned out to be RC Lens over in France. With my two years at Lens in the books I can officially give you my FM22 managerial timeline:
Through use of a random number generator, I found myself at Stromgodset in Norway. Basically, I assigned numbers to every continent, then every country, every league in that country etc. It put me at Stromgodset. Because the season starts in spring, I got to put a season in before the rest of the leagues start. We won the Eliteserien and I immediately left in search of a new challenge.
Stromgodset went on to win two more titles in 2026 and 2030. My star player, Halldor Stenevik, moved to RB Salzburg before a failed big money move to Mainz. He then moved to Trabzonspor in Turkey where he helped the team to win FOUR Turkish super league titles. Considering Trabzonspor hadn’t won the title since 1984 this was pretty cool to see.
2022-2024: CD MAFRA
Random numbers took me to Portugal where I took over second tier Mafra and got them promoted. After a bunch of offers from English teams (Fulham in particular) I eventually moved to Aston Villa, deciding that if it was real life, I couldn’t turn down the move.
CD Mafra qualified for Europe in my final season before returning to mid-table. After a while they got good again, finishing runner up in the Portuguese Cup in 2031 and qualifying for Europe through the league in 2033, our final season. I’m so proud of them!
2024-2031: ASTON VILLA
This was the bulk of my save. I won five league titles and five Champion’s Leagues. It was the most successful save I’ve had in years, maybe ever. The last time I won a Champion’s League (other than PSG on a Glory Hunter, which doesn’t count) was probably the 2009 version of the game? It really has been that long. To win five in a row and leave a team that’s probably the best I’ve ever seen was hugely satisfying.
Aston Villa continued to dominate after I left, winning two more league titles under Pep Guardiola. After beating Chelsea and Man City in back-to-back finals, they also added two more Champion’s League titles as well. They even sold off a bunch of the options as I’d built such an enormous squad and still walked the league. Their centre forward Bobby Adeyemi is the best newgen I’ve ever seen.
He’s got 52 for England and 210 for Villa. He’s 5 goals off taking the Villa goal record from Harry Hampton. At 27 years old and with no history of injuries he’s not finished yet. It’s a shame I don’t get to see his full career, but it’s been a fucking pleasure.
2031-2033: RC LENS
First season at Lens was tough, with the lack of squad depth getting painful, but we still finished P2 ahead of tricky opponents like Lille. Lost the cup final to Lille on pens after they equalised in stoppage time. Second season we split time between Champion’s League and Ligue 1. We had better squad depth this time and kept adding to it. We got into the CL knock outs only to lose to Barcelona in the quarter finals, after beating them twice in the group stage. We also did the double over PSG in the league, but PSG only drew one other game apart from that and won with 94 points. We had 93 points.
I thought I’d let you know how the leagues have been going in the background and who the big winners and losers were. Aston Villa, under my leadership, were obviously the big winner in the Premier League but looking at the final league table in 2033 reveals some interesting shit. Southampton finished P6 and qualified for Europe. Newcastle didn’t make it into Europe at all. In fact, they got relegated in 2031 and spent a season in the Championship. Manchester Utd finished below Watford in their final season, having slowly declined into midtable. The biggest overachievers were Reading who got promoted and stayed up. In the final season both West Ham and Liverpool were relegated. I swear I had nothing to do with the latter (apart from terminating the contracts of all their players, removing their reputation and firing all the staff).
In the lower leagues Wrexham and Notts Co both made their way up to League One. As did Southend. Barnet and Chesterfield found their way back into the football league, as did Yeovil. Carlisle, Harrogate, Cheltenham and Newport are all non-league clubs. Newport going down into National League North/South in the final season. FC United of Manchester made it into the National League.
In Serie A Juventus won eight league titles but Inter Milan won the final two titles. The surprise outfit here was Udinese, who qualified for the Champion’s League in the final season. Jose Mourinho’s Roma also won a Serie A title. Parma are the most prominent team in Serie B.
In La Liga, it was mainly Barca or Real Madrid. Real Sociedad seem to have supplanted Atletico as the third best team in the league. Real Zaragoza are now good again. Deportivo la Coruna never made it to La Liga and got relegated out of La Liga 2 on two occasions.
In the Bundesliga it was all Bayern. They won every title. Hertha Berlin was the closest to catching them but finished 17 points behind Bayern in the final season. Schalke became a yo-yo team. They spent more time in 2. Liga than the top flight.
In Ligue 1, Lens emerged to challenge PSG under my stewardship. In our final season we came heartbreakingly close. Beating PSG twice in the league but losing away at Lille. We won 30 of 34 games. PSG won 31. They won the league by one point. Unlike Germany, another team did win the title though as Monaco won back-to-back titles in 2023 and 2024.
Around the other leagues some cool stuff;
- PSV Eindhoven are now an also-ran. In the last three seasons their best league finish was fifth.
- Vitoria de Guimaraes won a Portuguese league title.
- LASK won their first Austrian title since the 60s and proceeded to win it again four years later. Rapid Vienna also won two titles as RB Salzburg began to fade.
- Krasnodar won their first Russian title in 2032.
- Legia Warsaw’s domination finally ended in 2030 when Pogon Szcecin won their first ever title. Followed by a Cracovia win in 2033.
- Norway is the only major league in Europe where a team never retained a title.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
- Lionel Messi left PSG in 2024 and joined Aston Villa (yes, this was when I was there). He played one season before retiring. He was denied a work permit to join the coaching staff and is now assistant manager at Watford. No wonder they finished above Man Utd.
- Kylian Mbappe never signed a new deal at PSG and joined Liverpool on a free. He scored 212 league goals for them in 288 appearances before Bosmaning his way back to PSG in 2031.
- Erling Haaland signed for Man City in 2022 (sounds familiar) and scored 324 goals for Man City over 358 league games. Seems low.
- Zinedine Zidane went on a rollercoaster of managerial appointments at Milan, Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin, Gladbach, Lille and Lazio before finally returning to Real Madrid in 2032 and winning the title.
- Jose Mourinho hung on at Roma for six years before joining Leicester, where he was fired after six months in charge. He was a scout at Aston Villa and is currently harbouring aspirations as a director of football. He’s unemployed.
- Erik ten Hag left Ajax for the Netherlands national team job, got sacked from that, was then sacked by Leipzig and had a stint at Sampdoria. He currently manages Wales.
- Harry Kane retired as England’s leading scorer of all time with 76 goals. He’s currently assistant manager at Tottenham.
- Raheem Sterling stayed at Man City until 2030 where he uprooted and moved to France. He played two years for PSG before a final season at Monaco.
- Neymar Jr signed for Real Madrid in 2026. He’s been retired for five years and is still in the game as an unemployed manager.
- Karim Benzema made a surprise move to Inter in 2022 and retired as a Sassuolo player in 2025. He did not win the Ballon d’Or.
- Jude Bellingham never returned to England and signed for Bayern Munich in 2030. He has 92 England caps.
- Romelu Lukaku retired as a Chelsea player having scored 211 league goals for the club over a decade.
- Son Heung-Min played for Spurs until 2027 when he signed for Man Utd for a season. He spent his final two years as a Porto player.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer joined Tottenham in 2026 and lasted three seasons. He also managed Leicester, Villarreal and Fulham.
- Jamie Vardy turned into an interesting lower league manager, being the boss of Oldham, Harrogate and Halifax. As well as a stint at Wrexham! Season five of Welcome to Wrexham was a wild one.
- Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal run was cut short in 2021. He went on to manage Sassuolo, Bologna, Bayer Leverkusen, Spain and Atalanta.
- Pep Guardiola quit Man City in 2023, took over as Juventus manager, won Serie A and then got sacked. He had a year at Villarreal (also sacked) and a failed run at Roma. He then won the World Cup with Spain and quit to join Chelsea. He left Chelsea to be Aston Villa manager when I left. He continued my winning ways.
- Jurgen Klopp was sacked by Liverpool and took over at Tottenham. He also managed Portugal and Germany.
- Antonio Conte left Spurs and joined Shanghai Port. His final managerial job was as coach of Poland’s national team.
- Graham Potter was sacked by Brighton in 2021 and bounced around Championship sides Stoke, Bournemouth and Fulham before taking the Liverpool job in 2022 and getting them relegated.
- Steven Gerrard stayed at Rangers until 2023 when he moved to West Ham. He was Liverpool manager and oversaw their decline between 2025-27. He was sacked and went to Atletico Madrid, sacked again, and ended his managerial career being sacked by Newcastle (they got relegated this season). He’s currently a coach at Liverpool.
- I sadly haven’t been able to find David Moyes but the last time I saw him he was manager of Uzbekistan, having qualified them for two successive World Cups.
On the wider stage the World Cup winners were Belgium, Senegal! And Spain. Senegal’s win was a huge upset. They beat Serbia in the final. I think that’s the wackiest thing that happened on the entire save. However, I should probably also mention that Belgium’s win came against Nigeria! Ghana made the semi-finals in 2030 as well. Big up the Africa.
The Euros were slightly less exciting. England won back-to-back in 2024 and 2028. The latter was when I was in charge. Southgate won one himself. Italy won the most recent Euros under Simone Inzaghi. He quit to manage Tottenham!
The Copa America was won exclusively by Argentina (2024) and Brazil (2028, 2032). USA made it to the final in 2024.
In the Champion’s League, before Villa’s dominance, it was won by Bayern, PSG, Man City, Chelsea and Bayern again. Allegri won City their only CL title. He was fired by them in 2026 but came back after stints at Dortmund and PSG. PSG’s win came under the reign of Mauricio Pochettino! In game Poch survived until 2028. He obviously won the Mbappe war in game. He left to join Real Madrid and is now in charge of Juventus.
While the Europa League has been boring, the Conference League has seen a range of winners including Leicester, Sassuolo, Valencia, Man Utd, Spurs (yes, they won something), Arsenal, Dortmund, Atalanta, Rangers and Panathinaikos.
Looking through some cup wins; Fiorentina won the Coppa Italia. The Scottish Cup was won by Livingston, Motherwell (twice) and Raith Rovers. Before PSG asserted their dominance the Coupe de France was won by Lille, Lyon, Montpellier and Rennes. Heracles won a Dutch Cup. Ionikos won a Greek Cup. Mouscron managed to win the Belgian Cup. Ranheim won not one but two Norwegian Cups. Southampton won two Carabao Cups and Norwich won one.
All in all, I had a blast on this FM22 save. I managed four teams and had a great time with all of them. I got to turn Villa into the world’s best team and took Lens through two seasons pushing PSG all the way. With FM23’s beta release coming up it’s time to call it quits and move on. My only regret is not getting the chance to win something with Lens. We lost in a cup final to Lille where we were two goals up on 85’ so that stings. Lost on pens. Also, going through a season with only one league loss and still not winning the league was ridiculous. But then Moukoko did score 62 league goals for PSG. What can you do?
With FM23 looming large my intention is to do another year long game. Did I find managing a little too easy this year? Maybe so. I won straight away with Stromgodset and swept everyone in Europe aside once I’d created a top team in England. Needing a challenge, I’ve decided to take on one of the biggest challenges FM has to offer. I’m doing the Pentagon. I’ve never managed in Africa at all and I’ve never won the Asian or South America competitions I’ll need to win for this. Plus, I’ve never started unemployed with no badges. It’s going to be an enormous challenge. Bring it on.