Written by InvertedWingbacks
The Race for Top 4. While Manchester City and Liverpool sprinted off into the distance to scrap over the league title, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all seemed to play a game of hot-potato with Champions League qualification, each out-doing the other with their apparent intent to avoid finishing in the Top 4. In reality, any of those four clubs could have provided a reasonably interesting Football Manager save, but with the added spice of an incoming transfer ban, I've opted for Chelsea.
Using SortitoutSI's custom start database, and a bit of help from Doop, and a DaveAzzopardi video, i'm taking over at Chelsea on April 29th; all league fixtures are up to date, and accurate to real-life. I've added Chelsea's 2-window transfer ban, so other than the deals that have already been agreed (Pulisic, for example), the squad I have is what I need to work with for the next season, which will mean an intense focus on developing Chelsea's existing youth and creating a pathway for the talent from Under 18 level right up to Senior football.
I'm starting the save from April 29th, but I decided not to be in control of how the team's season ended. The SortitoutSI update has all the real league fixtures, but the game randomly generates all of the cup and european ties, so while I was on holiday, we kicked off my time in charge with a decent league run, having already won the Carabao cup against Liverpool. In the end, Zola managed to nail down Champions League football for next season, finishing 4th in the league.
Obviously, I can't take any credit for those performances, but I can certainly use them as a yardstick for where we should be aiming in the coming few seasons. I think a lot of our goals for the new season will depend on how our summer transfer window goes. Obviously, I'm unable to sign anybody, so if we do (as I expect) lose a couple of big names such as Eden Hazard, then the next season or two could be difficult.
There has been a lot said about Chelsea's youth development. They regularly win honours at youth level, but seem unable to translate those performances at youth level into developing players who break into their first-team squad. My aim for this save is to turn that narrative around, and create a pathway from youth football into the first team. To do so i'll have to spend a lot of time learning in more detail about training and player development in FM, and figuring out how I can implement that with the squads from youth level through to senior level, in order to give our players the best chance to make it at the highest level.
I'm leaving my 'goals' for the save relatively open-ended. The aim is essentially to have fun with what is truly a massive club, and build a reputation for developing our youngsters. The first steps will be establishing a tactical style and looking at what youngsters we have available, and then moving on to building an idea of how I want to work training with the players to maximise their potential and developing a pathway into the senior squad.