Football Manager Journeys: FM22 Season 1
I must admit, I had no idea what to do on FM22. My FM21 final save had got me bad and I eventually gave up after five seasons at Dundee Utd because the game kept crashing. For those who missed that little journey; 3 titles, 2 domestic cups and the semi-final of Europa League in five years. It was one hell of a ride. It left me coming into FM22 without a clear idea of what I wanted to do though. So, I opted for true randomness thanks to a random number generator. I had one rule; for this year’s FM I can’t manage a team I’ve managed on a previous FM save. I have a spreadsheet with those clubs recorded on it but suffice to say, it’s a very long list.
As you can see; I loaded up everything and hopped onto the random number generator. First going 1-5 to select my continent. Number 3 was Europe. Then it picked me number 21 for Norway. Then 1-4 in divisions I got lucky and landed on division 1 the “Eliteserien” and finally number 13. Lucky number 13 was Stromgodset.
Stromgodset were predicted to finish 10th. I could live with that. I nice easy beginning to the FM journey. No relegation pressure, no title battles. The club wanted to compete for the title within three years so there was a little pressure to look upwards. The season started immediately. You know how you arrange that intra-squad friendly? Well, mine dropped in after our first competitive game. I’m not even exaggerating here. April 14 we played Nardo FK in the Norwegian Cup (NM SAS Braathens Cup to be exact) and April 17 we played our second XI.
I looked at the squad and decided there were positives and negatives. The back four was ok and we had a great holding player in Ipalibo Jack. We also had a stunning left winger in Halldor Stenevik. He looks a bit like Scott McTominay if you want to imagine him. We also had two exciting strikers. Lars-Jorgen Salveson and Fred Friday (yes!) Unfortunately, Salveson is out for 9-10 months having done his cruciate ligaments.
Having weighed up the positives and negatives I plumped for a 4-3-2-1. Attacking full backs, defensive midfielder, a carrilero to cover the space on the right where there’s no winger at all, an AML and AMC and a striker.
I legitimately thought this was fine and we played ok football but a series of misfortunes convinced me to change. We got knocked out the cup in R2 by Sarpsborg, a lower top flight team. Although, looking back, we should have won with a 2.20 xG vs. 1.02 and Leifsson, an Icelandic centre back, was playing and was revealed later to be useless. A 0-0 draw at Lillestrom followed with precisely zero highlights. Neither team mustered an xG of even one. We were then trounced 3-1 at home by Molde. They were the favourites for the league title so I took that with a pinch of salt but we deserved to get beaten heavily. Then, the final straw, a 4-3 loss at Kristiansund where I switched to 4-2-4 in mid game out of desperation.
In FM21 whenever I was faced with a desperate situation I reverted to a weird, but successful, formation where you only have one central midfielder. 4-3-1-2. I’d also gone after a centre back in the free market and recruited Moroccan Mihoubi to play alongside giant centre back Gustav Valsvik. In this system you defend the ball in a standard 4-4-2 but when you win possession the full backs push into central midfield allowing the wingers to move forward and the AMC role links with two advanced forwards. It’s never failed me. We won our first game 3-1 at Brann.
I don’t feel the score tells the full story. Vilsvik, our right back, was on pens up to this point. He literally missed a hattrick of penalties…and got sent off. I put Fred Friday on pens after that game and we saw a better conversion rate.
This was our next game. Rosenborg at home. 7-5. Eddie Sideburns accused me of “breaking the game” at this point. It was just a madness. End to end, a hundred highlights. Goals galore. It took me about half an hour to play the game. Kadiri, who to this point had been a bench warmer, was suddenly banging them in for fun. I still have a winger problem but Stenevik rules wherever he is on the pitch. Stenseth was the latest to play the other flank. He’s…ok.
The tables had been successfully turned though. Everything settled down and we went on a great run. Getting revenge against Sarpsborg for the cup calamity and winning 11 of 12 games between end of May and end of August. Including a 4-1 win at title rivals Bodo/Glimt and a key away win at Molde right at the end of August. We’d been level with Molde at the start of the game. Stromgodset were top of the league!
And it didn’t stop there!
A thumping 6-1 win at Rosenborg saw us eviscerate the only team who were putting together a title charge. Molde faltered badly after we beat them and Bodo/Glimt were struggling to keep up. With Rosenborg despatched we settled into an easy run of fixtures and cruised to the Eliteserien title. First season! There are still three games left as I write this.
A few fixes I made during the season. Vegard Erlien came in on loan, from Ranheim a division below for some reason, and slotted nicely into the left wing spot. I also signed Swiss winger Marco Schonbachler on a free to give us some depth. This did cause me some registration issues. In Norway you’re only allowed nine non-homegrown players. I found it was a constant juggling act to try and keep bringing talent in without having to boot out someone useful. As a result I ended up with a second string keeper who was terrible but home grown. I played my starting keeper even when he got injured. The other big fix was bringing in Eliaquim Mangala to give us a partner for Valsvik. I got him on the cheap and for this level he’s fucking brilliant. Finally I signed another freebie; Paraguayan striker Sergio Diaz. He scored 8 goals in the final 9 games to get us over the line.
Well, this was unexpected. I thought Stromgodset would be a 3-4 season struggle. Slowly creeping up the table before eventually winning a title. It turns out their core is good enough to challenge and I just filled in the blanks. I could stay and see what happens in the Champion’s League next season but I would literally be waiting for half a season because we play a winter league. I have signed Carlos Tevez to make things more interesting but even so that’s a long spell to sit around in a league I’ve already conquered. On the plus side I have so many leagues loaded I could go just about anywhere in the world. The job vacancies screen requires me to scroll down four times to get to the bottom.
So, like the Clash asked; should I stay or should I go? I had no intention of this being a journeyman but I don’t feel the connection here that I did at Dundee Utd (despite some great lads on the team). I wanted to win Stromgodset a title and I’ve done that.
NEXT: I could be in Norway, I could be at Nafta Lendava in Slovenia, or Manisa FK in Turkey, or Remo in Brazil, or Timok in Serbia, or Werder Bremen in Germany or Scunthorpe. The world is my oyster.