I had a good feeling when I set off on a new managerial journey with Weston-super-Mare in August 2025. What I didn’t predict was I’d be offered the Boreham Wood hot seat days in to the job. I accepted Wood’s offer but struggled and didn’t enjoy how the save was going. So I loaded the save to when I was offered the WSM job to finally give it a real go.
I have struggled to win games on FM14 so felt I’d nothing to lose. Thus I decided I’d impose a ‘fun’ rule: I can’t sign anyone (permanently)! I’d allow loan signings but that’s all. It’s not as if we had much money to buy anyone or pay anyone’s wages anyway!
Now I might disappoint you here because I sort of went against this rule. I really missed signing players so I thought as long as they were from Weston-super-Mare itself it would be okay. I then also signed two random players on free transfers breaking the rule but those were the only four I signed and I spent £0 on them.
With our fledgling squad we managed to win the Skrill South by nine points:
We won the most games and lost the least and led the rest for the vast majority of the season starting from the first few games and only dropping to second/ third for a week or two once or twice. Our great performance was a massive surprise to me and I put it down to having a suitable tactic for the level and managing my players well and keeping them happy.
- Striker, Ben Iroha, scored the most ever goals for the club in the league and all competitions with 24 and 29, eclipsing David Kolodynski’s record of 11 and 12.
- Attacking midfielder, Jonathan Nelson, scored the most goals in a match with four against Maidenhead United.
- Nelson also achieved the most assists ever with 11.
- Non-regen, Richie Baker, became our oldest ever player at 38 years and 117 days.
- Matt Ricketts became our second youngest goalscorer at 15 years 275 days only missing the record by 11 days.
- Baker was also our oldest ever goalscorer at 38 years 103 days.
- The proudest record of all though must be finishing a record 8th a year after a record low.
Although it’s only praise from a virtual board of directors it was nice the big wigs at West-super-Mare were ‘delighted’ with my performance in managing the club in our first season working together.
I promised myself I’d see out at least a season with WSM even though I’d envisaged losing every week and struggling and probably failing to avoid relegation. This patience, which isn’t usually a strong point of mine, was rewarded handsomely though.
We only lost once in our first eight league games and I couldn’t believe what was happening. We continued to defy the odds and even won nine in 14 games at one point. We were disappointing in the FA Trophy and FA Cup but with very little experience in the squad nothing more was expected.
I feel I have begun to taste real success for the first time after taking things back to basics. When you have so many player roles to choose from and all sorts of team instructions it’s tempting to experiment at every chance in a bid to find a flaw in the game which can be exploited or a ‘perfect tactic’. I knew I had to be more disciplined and patient as a virtual manager so I decided on a fairly simple 4-5-1 formation with two wide midfielders and limited full backs which I touched upon in the introduction to this save here.
I felt we were weaker than most teams in the league so I set out to counter; I chose the ‘fluid’ philosophy as I felt it would encourage slightly more creativity out of a fairly basic system. I knew as I’d used this shape in previous FMs that my ‘AM’ would be extremely important so it was fortunate my best two players, Ricketts and Nelson (Skrill South Player of the Season, were naturals there.
Dropping deeper naturally seemed to fit with our counter attacking mentality so that’s what I stuck with for the most part. I asked my players to hassle opponents to try to quickly win back the ball which would hopefully compliment our counters (and it did seem to).
Now I’m sure you have noticed how basic my tactics are. One of the tips I read on the SI Games forum was to use minimal team instructions unless you absolutely can’t leave others out. As I said I wanted to bring it back to basics and this seemed to really pay off helping us to win the Skrill South in my second season in charge.
I hope I’ve given you something to bear in mind when setting up your tactics, just because there are lots of exciting new players roles available, it doesn’t mean you have to fit them all in to your team!
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