In Episode 2 we took you through our recruitment for the 2019/20 season. Lot’s of players left and some exciting players joined the group. In this instalment we will be taking you through a season review, how the new signings have settled in and how different approaches to Football Manager worked when CurtyFM, FMDoop & FridayNightFM took control at various times throughout the season.
With the transfer window firmly closed, Manchester United’s recruitment stands out as one of the largest in world football.
United’s three highest transfers are also that of the league, Harry Maguire from Leicester for £65m, Abdoulaye Doucouré from Watford for £40.5m and Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon for £40m all make the front page with United also leading the way as the biggest spenders this summer with a whopping £241m spent… and that’s without the add-ons.
A bumper pre-season schedule was arranged to integrate the new signings into the squad. Tours of China and America were arranged for ‘Commercial Revenue’ (this would happen in real life, but doesn’t really work in FM) with more local, morale boosting fixtures slotted in around them. We were happy with the performances and looked forward to starting the season against Leicester.
August – November
We started the campaign well and picked up plenty of points. A draw against Chelsea is not to be sniffed at but a defeat against Bournemouth and their fantastic 4-4-2 left us thinking about how we could combat that. A defeat against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup wasn’t exactly the end of the world as we played our second string side with the competition not really high on our agenda.
Finishing the month of November as Manager of the Month showed that we were getting things right but as we approached the busy Christmas period we knew that it would start testing our ability to continue what we had started.
With the club doing well in both the Premier League & The Champions League it was time to think about improving the club further. FridayNightFM wanted to introduce a holding midfielder to the squad with no real defensively minded player on the books it made sense to start sniffing around N'Golo Kanté from Chelsea.
CurtyFM & FMDoop had other ideas…
FMDoop took control of the team throughout the January window making sure that FridayNightFM couldn’t sign Kanté and instead spent £86m on Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi (yes he did) & £42m on West Ham’s Declan Rice. Now, we don’t actually play a system that includes a defensive midfielder so spending £128m on two players that probably won’t play much seems a little reckless, especially as both are Cup Tied for the remained of the season. FMDoop also facilitated the departures of Jesse Lingard to Arsenal for £63m and top-scorer, Romelu Lukaku, to Real Madrid for £94m.
FM_Razz also piped up with a suggestion ..
Doop’s transfer dealings might need questioning but his performance at the wheel definitely get him off the hook. A perfect January which included victories over Chelsea and Spurs certainly put the club in a strong position for the start of the year so much so that former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær was excited by the in-form side.
With the January window closed it was back to business and February was an action packed month with games in the Premier League, Europa League and the FA Cup. Bournemouth were once against a bogey side and a loss against Wolves spoiled the hard work Doop had put in during January.
February 28th 2020 might be a date to remember in the United calendar as the club reported that the next batch of Youth Candidates had been classed as a Golden Generation. The stand out potentials from this group were Dylan McNeil & Ben Lewis.
March – May
The games just didn’t slow down! A decent March saw us gain a Europa League Quarter Final game against Valencia and finishing the month unbeaten gave us hope that the 4-3-3 system still had something about it.
April however wasn’t as fruitful, an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool plus a derby defeat against City decided our season and that we wouldn’t be winning the league. Victory in the Quarter Final of the Europa League set us up with a Semi Final against Benfica which we would finish the month with a 1-0 home victory and a solid clean sheet to take to the away leg in Portugal.
Our season finished in disappointment, we lost to bitter rivals, Liverpool, in our final league game of the season and then ended our Europa League campaign with a final loss against Arsenal where former player, Jesse Lingard, played out of his skin to help Arsenal come out the victors in a 3-2 win.
Champions League qualification was achieved with games to spare and our 2020/21 season budgets were released. We were being backed with a war chest of £371m which meant we were being given the tools to strengthen the squad not only to compete in the Champions League, but to also close the gap on City & Liverpool who ran away with the league. A new tactical vision had been thought out inspired by Pep’s City, well they do say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, which would enable us to utilise the potential of Declan Rice in the Fernandinho role. The centre back partnership of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf had been good, but if we were to take the club to the next step upgrading of centre halves became a priority along with an Inside Forward-Right & a number 9.
There are plenty of positives to take away from the first season in charge. Champions League football means the financial backing will be there, a new tactical philosophy and some fantastic new recruits mean that the next post is guaranteed to be a belter.
Thanks for reading. See you next time.