Hello there! It’s been a while since my mood was last affected by electrical impulses, and even longer since I last blogged about it. That’s because, as usual, my enthusiasm for Football Manager wained somewhere between April and June, when the real life football wound down for another season and the real life Grimsby Town failed in the Conference play-offs for a third consecutive season. But I’m back with a bang! That’s because FM16 entered my life yesterday in the most unexpected way when I discovered my wife had ordered it for me as a gift through Steam – and, as most seasoned campaigners will know, pre-ordering the game allows you to play the beta two weeks before it’s physically released.
The beginning of a beautiful FM16 campaign
Let’s get straight into it. I’ve begun, as I always do, by taking charge of Grimsby Town. As an incredibly slow player at the best of times it saves precious hours learning who the hell is in my squad and working out their strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve also chosen to run the ‘Touch’ version – what was previously termed the ‘classic’ version (or FMC) – rather than the ‘full fat’ version, again to give me as much assistance as possible to whizz through the seasons. Tunnel interviews and team talks are enjoyable until the novelty wears off, and then I find them tedious obstructions.
There’s a nice little option when setting up a new save that allows you to begin your campaign at the end of pre-season (for those who can’t be arsed to deal with all those friendlies). For me that’s wasting precious practice time, when I can build an effective formation and develop decent tactics.
I’ve also decided to use the dark skin option on Touch (or FMT, which it’ll no doubt be called) as this makes it feel a little less childish than previous versions. A cynic might be tempted to suggest this slimmed down, stipped back version is becoming cluttered with information, but crucially it doesn’t get in the way of you progressing as quickly as you’d like.
Getting stuck into it
When I meet my players for the first time there are three long-term absentees – Scott Brown (ankle), Marcus Marshall (medial ligaments) and Jon-Paul Pittman (thigh). None are expected back any time sooner than mid-September. That left me with just two fit strikers, Padraig Amond and Omar Bogle (who I’d previously managed on FM13 during my Solihull save), so I set about finding a new striker.
That’s when I realised I didn’t have a scout. There are no decent ones out there. The best I could find was some slaphead who had 8 for judging player ability and naff all else. He did help me find John Cofie, though. He scored just 56 seconds into his debut (which was a friendly at Belper, so not strictly his debut, but you know what I mean).
The squad is just about there, although a bit thin in central midfield beyond the two Craigs, Clay and Disley. I manage to bring in Matty Dixon on a three-month loan from Hull, to cover in the centre and out wide on the right, then discover he’s injured and won’t be back until our first game of the season at Kidderminster.
My first match is a comfortable 2-0 home win over Grantham, followed by a 6-1 demolition of Belper where Cofie scored two goals inside the first five minutes. Things went a bit awry at Harrogate, where we lost 2-1, and we did well to limit a strong Sunderland side to just a one-goal victory. It was looking really ropey when 2-1 down at Mossley with just 15 minutes ago, but we came back to win that one in a game where we created more than enough chances to win very, very comfortably.
Disley had a poor pre-season, but Danny East, Nathan Arnold, Bogle and Amond all did well – as did Nathan Arnold and young prospect Harry Clifton, who scored in the 3-2 win at Mossley. Cofie scored three in two starts but picked up an injury that meant he wasn’t quite ready for the curtain-raiser at Kiddy.
The 2015/16 season so far
As you can see, I’ve only played three games. I was pretty happy with the 3-1 win at Kidderminster in what was a fairly even game, but we really cocked things up at home to Barrow. The visitors were reduced to 10 men just before half time with the score at 1-1. Bogle made it 2-1 and it should’ve been a routine win, but Clay picked up a second yellow and we conceded an equaliser late on.
That was all rectified in what was a dominant performance against Bromley, who currently sit bottom of the league. Bogle has three in three, and Amond scored on his debut at Kiddy, so we’ve been good going forward. We’re not watertight at the back by any means, but I was pleased to record our first shut-out against Bromley before it became a bit of a niggly nuisance.
I’ve managed to achieve all this in one lazy Sunday afternoon. On FM13 I remember completing a full season in just over two weeks, and that for me is incredible pace. I’ll be back soon, no doubt, with another update.