Category Archives: Uncategorized

Catch up with YouTuber Spencer Taylor in his Newport to new Champion series

Spencer, aka BadJokesFM, has been on an exciting journey from the lower leagues to the Premier League. Find out where he’s up to now. Can he find even more success? Watch now.

Spencer: Hey guys. I’m back with the last 2 games of season 5 of Newport to new Champion as my Southampton team take on Burnley and Newcastle. See how I’ve got on in my first half season in the Premier League…

 

Moussa Dembele at Swansea: progress through the goal machine

dembele

As some of you know I picked Swansea as my first team to manage on FM17. I wrote an introduction piece about my choice but for following posts I wanted to write about my save in an interesting way, motivated by recent criticism of Football Manager blogging. So I’ve come up with the idea to focus each post on a particular player in my squad. Maybe he’s been playing great or maybe he’s caused me trouble. I’ll use his situation to tell the broader story of what’s going on at Swansea and in the Premier League.

Moussa Dembele, the French striker, has been my best signing. I wanted him as soon as I started at Swansea, knowing from following Celtic in real life through my job in journalism, that he was one of the most talented young footballers around. Thankfully, unlike in reality, in FM17 we (Swansea) were the only club to harbour major interest in him and Celtic were happy to sell him to us for the bargain price of £7m. He joined us at the start of the 2017/18 season and it wasn’t long before he hit the back of the net. He scored in his first game, against Watford, and bagged a hat-trick in his second game, against Sunderland. Now, after 18 games for the club, he has 10 goals – not bad for a 21-year-old. Strikers usually take time to find the knack of scoring consistently but I think he’s worked it out already. He still has a lot of room to improve though and his average rating, at 6.96, shows that although he’s scoring, his all-round game needs work. He’s scored against Chester, Watford, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Arsenal, Southampton and West Ham. And his goals are important because our defensive record is miserable. We’ve conceded 37 goals in 17 games; only Sunderland can claim to have conceded as many. We’ve conceded three goals or more in eight games this season (my second season in charge) and no matter how many tactical tweaks I try we can’t stem the flow. Maybe my defenders just aren’t good enough? Fabianski in goal can certainly be a burden at times although he does make very good saves. I’ll replace him as soon as I can find someone better. Ben Foster was available but he wanted £63k a week as a rotation option and for rotational players, my limit was about £10k less than that. I didn’t want to guarantee he’d be a first team or key player in case he proved to be more error prone than Fabianski.

It’s amazing Celtic signed Dembele for only £500,000 from Fulham. It’s amazing we signed him for only £7m. It’ll amaze me even more if he’s still in Wales in 2020. But I won’t let him go on the cheap! BREAKING NEWS: As I write this, Dembele has just scored the winner in a 1-2 away win against bottom side Everton (yes they’re struggling in my save too). His winning goal could prove the most important he’ll score all season.

Next time I’ll introduce you to another player in my squad whose story will help explain how the club is doing on and off the pitch. Thanks for reading.

Football Manager 2017: My initial impressions

fm17-image

As sure as the world keeps spinning, Paul Pogba will be described as a waste of money, Mike Ashley will play the role of super villain and it won’t really matter who’s prime minister or president, the approach of winter means the release of a new Football Manager game. But what’s not as predictable is whether Football Manager 2017 will be lacking in any obvious major improvements like the majority of versions released in the last decade.

Having played very little of FM16 compared to previous iterations due to other commitments, I feel I’m coming in to this season with fresh legs and in a position to put my best foot forward. So let me tell to you a few things I like and don’t like as much about the FM17 beta from the short time I’ve played it.

As Miles Jacobson says in the game’s features reveal video, FM17 is the best-looking version ever. It’s a joy to watch matches, even with comprehensive or full match highlights. The game seems to flow better, players move the ball quicker and the ball appears to move more realistically. This gives you the impression you have greater control over in-game events as there will be a lesser element of randomness caused by game mechanic defects.

I’m enjoying seeing my set pieces played out as my players actually seem to be doing what I’ve asked them to. In previous games, I might as well have given up on creating set pieces as it felt like my team did whatever they felt like doing. This could have also been down to weaknesses in previous match engines – I don’t know. And when you’re choosing players to take set pieces, the game automatically orders your squad with the best corner/free-kick/penalty taker at the top of the list, which I’m quite sure is a new feature. This might sound like a small detail but it’s the small, tedious jobs that can make FM more laborious than enjoyable.

It’s only the beta but I’ve noticed we still have to endure the annoying ‘bug’ where goalkeepers catch the ball after it’s gone out of play while they’re stood over the line which no keeper would bother doing in reality.

Another issue I’ve noticed is the press are already asking me what I think of a club’s relegation chances after only a couple of games. Maybe this is just the way football is now. There is always speculation about managers’ jobs and teams are written off almost immediately; many predicted Leicester would be relegated and look what happened. This might be a bug that needs looking at though.

Unfortunately the beta is really slowing my laptop down. Maybe the new game requires a more powerful system to run well on. Maybe it’s just an issue with the beta as I vaguely remember having the issue one year and the game seemed to run easier once the full version was released.

I like that my staff tell me when one of my players on loan is doing well. Before, I would send a player on loan and just hope for the best. It would take too much time and effort to remember to check up on how players out on loan were doing.

I’ve seen people criticise the new social feed in FM17 but I like it. It shows various opinions from fans of the club posted online. Keeping your fans happy is extremely important so it’s great to get this instant feedback about your team’s performances. In previous games, I often had little idea of how I was doing in my job. Of course, you know if you’re losing every game it’s not going to please the board or the fans but these ‘online’ comments give you up-to-date and specific reactions which can either serve as a shot in the arm or welcome encouragement.

I don’t think it’s simply down to me taking an extended break from the game that I’m enjoying the FM17 beta so much. From what I’ve noticed so far, I think small improvements to lots of things have mounted up to make this new game a considerable amount more enjoyable than some of its predecessors, although it’s still early days. It’s a shame we’ve had to wait so long for what seems like an overhaul of so many nagging features but I think patience has paid off for fans who buy the game every year. So what are you waiting for? Go and download the beta from Steam.

You can win a free code for the full game which includes beta access by retweeting my pinned tweet and following me at @fmscrapbook

Is the teamwork attribute the key to success?

I’m starting a save with Swansea because I’m usually put off by managing in the English Premier League in search of something a bit more exotic, so now the prospect has actually become exotic.

It’s sexy and retro to me. It’s also nice to be in familiar surroundings, knowing the domestic players better and which players might be available to buy.

Also, Jamie Carragher’s interview with Ronald Koeman (Everton manager) on Sky, where the Dutchman said he wanted players who found it second nature to fight to win the ball back and generally work hard for the team, inspired me to try something similar with a club at a similar level to the Toffees.

I didn’t want to pick Everton because, for me, they’re a bit too good now to provide a major challenge.

In addition, I talked to my friend Curtis about his current save.

He’s managing Aston Villa and believe or not, he’s signed Emile Heskey.

I didn’t understand why but he said Heskey is a great team player and he really values that in players on FM and in real life.

It got me thinking.

So, I’m going to build a team around a few strengths, including teamwork, work rate and passing.

I feel teamwork and work rate combine to produce a player who works hard for the team and works well with the team.

Swansea’s only philosophy is to play possession football hence the passing attribute leaning.

There is more to keeping the ball than just passing but I want to keep this project as simple as possible because, from experience, that’s what works best and will be fun for longer.

I do have a question about teamwork for you though and I’ll post a poll after this.

The question is, does a player need both high teamwork and work rate attributes to be a good team player?

Thanks for reading.

Why do I keep quitting on Football Manager?

I keep quitting. I know it’s never the route to success, because ‘you only lose when you give up’, but after a few years of playing Football Manager, I think I have a good sense of when a group of players and I are incompatible and I think performing below expectations early on in a career is symptomatic of this.

I don’t mind a challenge. You should see the runs of losses I’ve muddled through, never throwing in the towel. If I believe in my team or see improvement in players, it can give me the glimmer I need to keep going.

And perseverance, as we all know, is one of the most valuable assets a sportsman or team can have. Without it, you will never win.

To be pragmatic though, FM is a time-consuming game, and if things just aren’t working, maybe the grass really is greener elsewhere.

I’ve won my fair share of league titles and cups in FM but I failed with Celtic. “How?” you ask. “How can you not succeed with Celtic?”

Maybe it was ‘a lack of match practice’ but when Leigh Griffiths can’t hit a barn door with a banjo all season, you get the feeling it’s just not meant to be.

From Glasgow, I moved on to the Austrian city, Salzburg, to manage FC Red Bull Salzburg.

They have a very talented squad, their youth players are probably comparable to those at any big European club. Valentino Lazaro is an FM favourite and worth a punt for any manager.

It started really well – of course it did; Salzburg are probably the best team in their league. I wanted a more leisurely career, at least at first before I warmed up.

Things have become tough though with my star player, Jonatan Soriano getting injured and being ruled out for a month or two. Maybe I’ll return to try again one day. Not right now though.

I just watched Jamie Carragher’s interview on Sky with Everton boss, Ronald Koeman, and he said something interesting about wanting his team’s pressing to improve.

He said he has some technically good players but inferred that some of them need to improve this aspect of their games or he’ll have to find players who do it more naturally. This has given me something to build a new save around.

I want to take control of a club and build a team with certain attributes.

Obviously I want players with good technique and skill too but I want my team to be known for a certain mental attribute that will also make them hard to beat and successful. It might not work but that’s part of the fun.

I’ll tell you what attribute I’ve decided to build my team around in the next article. I think I want to manage an English Premier League club, possibly Everton.

Until next day, happy FM’ing.

Managing in Serie A: look who’s impressing me!

As you might know if you’ve seen my recent posts, I’m managing Sampdoria in Italy.

We’re doing okay in competitions and some of my players are doing unexpectedly well so let me introduce you to them and you can see if they might fit at your club.

Luisinho

Luisinho is class. He was bought for £130k from Brazilian Second Division side, Santa Cruz, where Grafite (once of Wolfsburg) is now captain.

His attributes are good but not amazing. However, he has pretty much everything you want in an attacking centre midfielder or advanced playmaker.

Fernando

Fernando

You’ve probably heard of Fernando, as had I, but I didn’t know he was this good. He’s fantastic and has scored some screamers. I feel pretty secure knowing he’s looking after my back four.

Evangelista

Lucas Evangelista makes up the three Brazilian amigos. He’s only 20 but he’s so so calm on the ball. He never seems to give the ball away and likes getting in dangerous areas. He can really finish too. He’s my favourite of the three because of his elegance and class. He reminds me of Juan Roman Riquelme.

Lucas is on loan from Udinese and I can’t see them selling him. Maybe I can find a similar player – Lucas’ attributes aren’t amazing – but he has a 7.43 average rating from 20 games. Buy him if you can!