Arnold Furious: Football Manager 21 Journeys #1
Hi, the last time I wrote about Football Manager was FM19. How is this possible? It feels so recent? Basically because I went from FM19 to FM20 very late due to being obsessed with a long term save on FM19. My only FM20 journey was an Anderlecht save where I lasted two seasons and got fired. FM21 has been a bit different. This is what has happened…
EVERTON BETA SAVE
I’ve never done a beta save before so I wasn’t sure what to do. After much conversation with Eddie Sideburns, the assistant manager, I opted to manage Everton because it’s the club I know the most about. For those who don’t know; I’m a lifelong (almost) Everton supporter. I won’t go into more details on it because that’s a column in of itself and one I am going to write!
I wanted a beta save where I could plug straight in and enjoy the game. For those who’ve not played FM21, it’s quite a step up from previous incarnations. The match engine is so different and it was genuinely exciting, even a little overwhelming, to get into the business of managing a football team on FM21. So I’m glad I started somewhere familiar. The Everton save was a huge success. During the beta three-man attacking formations were somewhat overpowered so I was playing 4-3-3 with three, count them three, advanced forwards.
Imagine a strikeforce composed of Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Arkadius Milik and that was my Everton beta save. I even signed bloody Neymar!
Some other recommended signings; Livakovic in goal. He was sensational and at the start of the game he’s reasonably priced. I had to replace Jordan Pickford to be honest. Niakhate at centre back gave me good balance defensively as a left sided central defender. Midfield was strangely unimportant, and this is something I would investigate once the full game launched.
After two seasons a dramatic 6-1 win at Spurs saw us pip Man Utd to the title and I’d already accomplished my dream of steering my boyhood club to the summit of English football. Was the game too easy? Richarlison scored 49 goals this season. 49! There was also a rumour that saves that started on the beta may be corrupted in some way and it was best to move on with your life. I did so, content that I’d won the title with Everton and also the Carabao and Europa League. Thus making me the most successful manager since Howard Kendall. Suck on that Carlo Ancelotti!
For my main save on FM21 I wanted to cover a lot of new territory. I’d had a blast on FM20 playing with Eddie Sideburns in Argentina. He took River Plate, I was Boca Juniors and it gave me a window into South American football and I loved it. So I loaded up a bunch of leagues across the Americas (USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru, Chile – all that FM has to offer) and hit random. The random button took me to MLS but not to the United States.
So...the start wasn’t great. I got summoned into the office after this 6-3 shellacking by Seattle, Vancouver’s local rivals, and got asked to explain myself. Why were we conceding lots of stupid goals? Why wasn’t I registering half the squad? Why had I let one of my starting centre backs go on waivers? Why did I lose to my Second XI?
I had to admit it. I didn’t understand the rules of MLS. Player registration was a minefield. The salary cap flustered me daily. How could I be under budget one minute and then suddenly overspent? How come some teams are allowed more foreign players than me? What the fuck is happening? I asked for more time, fully intending to scrape through one season and then quit.
At this point I need to give a big old shout out to Matt Richards. I basically tweeted at him saying something along the lines of “save me”. I was Princess Leia. He was Obi-Wan Kenobi. I implored him to impart his wisdom and he linked me to an explanation of MLS rules. One Monday morning I lay in bed reading them all. Trying to understand what General Allocation Money was and how I could buy down the effects of player salaries. So I could actually get players in. I learned how waivers work and more importantly how I could trade with other teams for draft picks and get myself more International slots as part of those trades. Almost overnight I was able to transform my team of jobbers into THE ALMIGHTY VANCOUVER WHITECAPS: KINGS OF MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER. Don’t believe me?
This was all done on stream (I stream on twitch.tv/arnfurious) so there was no save scumming involved. With my good luck charm Tobi watching on we ran roughshod over all and sundry. Apart from San Jose. We don’t talk about San Jose. With a formational change to what has now become my traditional formation, which I’ve used ever since to devastating effect, Vancouver became MLS’ best team.
The joy of MLS didn’t quite follow through though and we bottled the big MLS Cup final game. Ali Adnan missing a last minute penalty, having a marginal offside goal chalked off in ET and then losing on penalties to New York City FC. So I was forced to sit through the season all over again, hoping I didn’t lose in the title game a second time.
Oh, by the way, our successes first season allowed us to compete in the CONCACAF Champion’s League. Well, we fucking aced that. Smashing Tigres 6-1 in the final over two legs. If this was to become a pentagon save we’d be one down! The Caps eventually triumphed in the MLS Cup and after two years in Vancouver I quit.
The next job was in Colombia as manager of Rionegro Aguilas aka Aguilas Dorados; “The Golden Eagles”. In my save they’re called Aguilas Pereira because the Brazilian name fix download thinks that’s what they’re called. Only the club moved from Pereira to Rionegro in 2016. Considering the team has only existed since 2008 it’s already on its third home city and has been kicked out of one of those. It’s an exciting place to be.
Luckily we didn’t have the same rocky start as we did in Vancouver and the tactics plugged in nicely. The first half of the season wasn’t great but the second half was an absolute breeze. We won the Copa Betplay (Colombia’s national cup competition) and followed up by winning the league title in the Finalizacion (the league is split into two halves, thus allowing two champions each season). When I tried to quit the Caps, I had a meeting with the board where they begged me to stay. Aguilas, perhaps used to turmoil, had no such offer when I tendered my resignation. I guess they assumed I was off to Brazil or some Argentina or some place with a bunch of money involved. Well, I sure fucking showed them.
UNIVERSIDAD CESAR VALLEJO
Yeah, bitches. I went to Peru. Cesar Vallejo is a university in Trujillo. They are traditionally the second team in Trujillo behind Carlos A. Mannucci (yes, most Peruvian teams are named after people, it’s confusing). What’s also confusing is the Peruvian league system. Whereby the winners of the first and second half of the season play off for the right to be the overall champion. Also teams that finish overall in the top two can join in the play offs. Unfortunately for me, or fortunately for me, I won both halves of the Peruvian season and sat around on stream waiting for my play off. Which, readers, doesn’t happen if you win both halves. You’re just the champion. I didn’t even get a little trophy ceremony. I just won.
Peru was a bizarre experience. I had an injury crisis that never actually effected results but had me screaming at the monitor as regular starters dropped like flies. I ended up playing defenders on the wing, centre backs at full back, reserves everywhere. There was a point where I had two fit defenders and they were both right backs. And yet, we just kept on winning. Including beating defending champions Sporting Cristal 9-1. That’s not a typo. You know how BBC used to type scores in brackets when it was a big number? 9 [NINE]-1.
Having won three titles in three seasons in three countries I was understandably floating on a high. However I ran into a problem here. Nobody actually wanted to give me a job. After quitting Cesar Vallejo I was waiting for the job offers to come pouring in but despite multiple interviews there was nothing. I was beginning to suspect I’d done something wrong somewhere. I was getting knocked back by Brazilian second tier teams.
So, I took the job as Paraguayan national manager and realised after a week of having the job that I had absolutely no interest in being the Paraguayan national manager. The week was between Christmas and New Year so it looks like I was there for ages, but it was literally a week.
CENTRO ATLETICO FENIX
64 hour drive over a literal mountain range, what could possibly go wrong?
At this point I was starting to get a bit pissed off about opportunities and how samey they were. I was about to start into my third straight mid-table South American team with limited chances of league success. I’d transformed teams in Colombia and Peru into title winners. Much easier to do so in Peru than Colombia but both had taken a year. CA Fenix…was a bit different. For starters the top teams in Uruguay are actually good. Liverpool FC (no relation), Danubio and Penarol were operating on a different level. Fenix are poor as shit. Parque Capurro is one of the cheapest looking South American grounds I’d ever seen…and that means I fell in love with it.
I don’t know if this is big enough for you to see but we scored 105 goals. Liverpool, who won the league, scored 73. Another year in Uruguay and Fenix would have won the league. I’m 100% convinced of this. They just needed a little more time and some improved quality in a couple of positions. The team was massively better between the first and second halves of the season alone. But I couldn’t stay another season because I got offered one of my dream jobs.
NEXT: Dorados de Sinaloa