Each year I say I’m not that interested in the latest version of Football Manager because I’ve barely played more than a season on the current version. But each year I make the mistake of watching the new features video and I get a little excited at the prospect of exploring it all – to the point where I finally give in and accept how throroughly predictable I am. I want the latest version.
So here I am, with FM15 installed on my laptop, typing my first update after playing six games as Grimsby Town manager. Just a quick word for my wife here, actually, as it was she who bought me the game. We were on holiday when the new version hit the shelves, but unknown to me she had pre-ordered it so it was waiting for me when I got back last week.
One of the new features is being able to decide what type of manager you’ll be. After choosing what your playing history was like, and how many coaching badges you have, you get to distribute a set amount of points between a number of managerial attributes. Here’s what I’ve given myself (and I believe they will fluctuate depending on how well you do, and whether you earn more badges in-game):
I was faced with an injury crisis upon seeing my squad for the first time. Strikers Ross Hannah and Jon-Paul Pittman were going to be out for the whole of pre-season, while the only other recognisable player who could play up front (other than Lenell John-Lewis), Nathan Arnold, got injured in my first friendly against Notts County.
Then Scott Neilson and Craig Clay injured each other in training. Neilson was going to be out for six weeks; Clay the entire season.
Basically, that left me light on the left of midfield too. So I set about bringing in a number of trialists – only on this version, in an effort to make the game more realistic than ever before, the scouting system has changed. You can no longer determine how good another player is from just a report. You have to watch them over a long period of time to reveal their true ability.
All this means that, if you find yourself in a corner and you need to sign someone quickly, it will always be a risk (especially at the very start of your first season when you haven’t had chance to send your scouts on assignments to create a bank of players to choose from).
In came Lee Thompson, Mark Wilson, Akwasi Asante, Carlton McIntosh, Junior N’Tamé and Sam Sodje (the last two are central defenders, who I wanted to look at because my first choice centre backs were both suspended for the first league game of the season). None of them cut the mustard (well, N’Tamé did, but his agent was a massive nob).
Here’s my squad, as of 31st August 2014:
As you can see, I have five players on loan – Luke Waterfall (Scunthorpe), Nathan Arnold (Cambridge), Callum O’Dowda (Oxford Utd) and Jason Gilchrist (Burnley). That’s only four, I hear you say! Well, the fifth is 19-year old goalkeeper Luke Coddington (Middlesbrough). I had to bring him in because my first choice keeper (and best player) James McKeown got injured in my final friendly and is out for two months.
Basically I’ve lost count of how many injuries I’ve had to first team players. A bunch of them have been moaning to my new assistant manager, Steve Gritt (who I nicked from Ebbsfleet), about training being too tough. I’m only focusing on fitness with a high intensity. These lads are meant to be full time!
Here are my results so far:
As you can see, there have been some weird results going on. I was rather chuffed with the win over Notts Co, and we did well to hold Coventry to a 2-2 draw, while the defeat to Peterborough was expected as I shuffled the players about in order to give them all a bit of game time (including the trialists). In fact, looking back, I’m surprised I wasn’t hammered in every single one of them.
The 7-0 win at AFC Fylde came out of nowhere. I don’t think we even played that well. Every shot just seemed to fly in, until it started to get a bit silly. It came just after I signed 35-year old Craig Easton, who is my replacement for the injured Clay. But then we were brought back down to earth with a bump, losing 3-0 at home to Walsall. The result wasn’t a surprise but the performance was much better than the scoreline suggested.
Not knowing how good we actually were (trialists in and out of the team, different striker pairings, different centre back pairings, no consistency in formation – you get the idea) I was a bit worried about our opening day game at Bristol Rovers.
But the 7-1 win suggested I shouldn’t have been.
Honestly? I don’t know how it happened. A simple 4-4-2 with everyone playing in their preferred positions. I think I might have even played on the counter, with a structured approach. That’s all.
Anyway, you can see for yourself how the rest of the month of August went (ending with another crazy away game at Aldershot, in which we drew 4-4). If I have one complaint about FM15 so far, it’s that there appear to be too many goals flying in. Not just in my matches, either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic about banging in 17 goals in six games, but each game sees both sides having about 20 shots at goal, and it’s not like I play an open game. If anything I like to err on the side of caution and play it more defensively. I’ve always been more of a 1-0 than 4-3 man.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with the Conference table as it stands after six games: