June 30, 2037
Retirement. It doesn’t sit well with me, but it was always inevitable. No player has ever been immune to it, even the very best. Some players extend their careers by playing at low levels to eke out a last pay check, but not me. I played a season too long and regret it. After 12 seasons, 416 league appearances and 204 goals with City I thought I had another 12 months in me. Perhaps I did, ultimately the coaches thought otherwise and I spent the season in the reserves, a shadow of my former self.
It was tough viewing for not just my family and friends, but my loyal fans too. The writing was on the wall when I was stripped of the captaincy the season prior. I was still vice-captain but I’d only managed five goals and of my 25 matches, I started in just five of them. My frustrations were beginning to show on the pitch with 20 fouls and my tackling ironically, was at a career high level. Now, just days after my 37th birthday, I have called time on my career.
This isn’t to say I am leaving football however, far from it. For me, this is just a new chapter in my life where I will try and lead the next generation to glory. For myself I was part of the Manchester City Machine, an experience I will never forget – four English Premier League titles from 2031-2034. But then the greatest indicator that the game had passed me by was when my teammates celebrated a fifth time on the last day of the season. Me? I was in the stands applauding. Sure I put on a happy face, I was genuinely thrilled for them. But deep down there was a burning, a desire that needed to be satisfied...
Ralf Landgraf was born in Bad Goisern am Hallstattersee on June 25, 2000. In a playing career which spanned 24 years from 2013 to 2037. Landgraf made 583 appearances and scored 273 goals. After making his Austria debut against Belgium in September 2018, he went on to make 144 appearances and score 100 goals for his country.
Ralf Landgraf started his career at Red Bull Salzburg in April 2013, breaking into the first-team in 2017 and making a total of two league appearances. In July 2018 he joined Arsenal for £1.3 million and made 32 league appearances and scored seven goals. During this time he also spent time on loan at Charlton Athletic Football Club, Swansea City AFC, Societa Sportiva Calcio Napoli and Associazione Calcio Milan, making a combined total of 133 league appearances and scoring 62 goals. Landgraf's Arsenal team lifted the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in 2019.
In August 2024, he joined Manchester City FC for £117 million and made 416 league appearances and scored 204 goals. During his time with Manchester City, Landgraf's team lifted the Premier League in 2031, 2032, 2033 and 2034, the UEFA Champions League in 2030, won the UEFA Europa League in 2027 and 2028, the UEFA Super Cup three times between 2027 and 2030, the FA Cup in 2025 and the FA Community Shield three times between 2031 and 2034.
Landgraf has a great record of 15 competition wins to his name and in terms of personal accolades, Landgraf has won the English Premier Division Top Goalscorer award on two occasions.
Ralf Landgraf in a nutshell:
39 Player of the Matches
7.14 Average Rating
Manchester City captain 2026-2035
Austria captain 2026-2037
Austria U20 captain 2018
Broke FA Cup record for goals scored in a season with nine goals (Arsenal)
Became Manchester City's record signing having joined from Arsenal for £117 million (English record)
Became Arsenal's record sale having departed to Manchester City for £117 million
Broke the Austria record for goals scored in a season with 10 goals (2027)
Broke the Austria record for goals scored in a season with 16 goals (2029)
Broke the FIFA World Cup Qualification - UEFA record for most player of the match awards in a season with six ((2029)
Broke the Austria record for most player of the match awards in a season with six (2029)
Broke the Austria record for most goals, gaining his 52nd goal in the match against Iran, at the age of 29 (2030)
Broke the Manchester City all-time record for most league goals with 159 (2032)
Second overall international goals with 100 behind Cristiano Ronaldo (108) yet had 32 less appearances.
AUSTRIAN ARCHITECT LOOKS TO MANAGEMENT
July 1, 2037
MANCHESTER City and Austrian legend Ralf Landgraf has not waited long to declare his intentions to move into management following his decision to hang up the boots earlier in the week.
The Manchester City and Austrian leading goal scorer broke numerous records and created a legacy that is near untouchable as one of the greatest players of the generation. A talented wonderkid from Red Bull Salzburg, he played at Arsenal and a host of loan clubs including Napoli and AC Milan before he made his name at Manchester City over the next decade.
The 37 year-old legend has indicated a willingness to take over a young team and develop them into world champions. He believes he has what it takes to make the transition into management and is "chomping at the bit" to take over a team. When asked where he would like to begin, he was open to offers.
"Obviously based in Manchester, I would be looking at English clubs, however a return home to Austria would also be attractive," he said. "I have been in contact with Italian clubs throughout my playing career and I know that moving to another nation would have its attractive prospects in terms of making a fresh start. "As far of which clubs I will apply for, I am going in with a blank slate and seeing who might be willing to take a chance on me."
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Landgraf is a champion player. But will that translate to management? Only time will tell.
Bath City - Vanarama National League South
Dover Athletic - Vanarama National League South
Wingate & Finchley - Vanarama National League South
Hastings - Vanarama National League South
San Marino Calcio - Lega Pro Girone A
Fidelis Andria - Lega Pro Girone C
Lupa Roma - Lega Pro Girone B
Lumezzane - Lega Pro Girone A
Fano - Lega Pro Girone B
Cuneo - Lega Pro Girone A
Virtus Francavilla - Lega Pro Girone C
Albalonga - Lega Pro Girone B
Matelica - Lega Pro Girone B
Brazil Under 23s
Leagues loaded in this save are all available England, Italy and Austria leagues.
Ralf Landgraf has a National A Licence and an International Player reputation (that's what his regenerated player finished with obviously
July 7, 2037
I collapsed on the bed of my hotel room. I looked at the bedside clock. It read 8.34pm. I had not even got into management and I was exhausted. I was on the other side of the country after obtaining interviews with both Dover Athletic and Hastings United. There were pros and cons to both. Dover had been at this level before, in fact the side had even made it to the National Conference but was yet to reach the Football League. Hastings had never been at this level let alone in the Football League in its 140-odd year history.
I’d met with Dover chairman Josh Stockdale earlier in the afternoon. He told me they were keen to sign high profile players to the club and particularly look to recruit from outside. A transfer budget of £26,000 was generous for this level. But a wage budget of just £3000 meant we would be limited. It was a way of saying, attract all these high profile players, but try not to pay them anything. Yeah, they’d totally go for that… at this rate I might have to pull on the boots… But at least Mr Stockdale was willing to bring youth into the club even though the youth facilities were basic. Hastings United was another story.
Colin Vann started off by joking about how if I expected the players to be international superstars I’d be disappointed. Clearly I wasn’t looking at the facilities. The local rag had not been wrong in describing the pitch as “terrible”. Mr Vann was a lot younger than Mr Stockdale, but for some reason he was not keen on bringing in youth. His transfer budget was considerably less with just £9000 but the wage budget was more than double at £7000. So if I landed the job at Hastings we could pay the players a bit more, but we would look to free agency more so than other clubs.
As it stood I was leaning more towards Dover because while the youth facilities were rubbish, at least the chairman was positive about bringing youth into the club. But the desire to also build a team from scratch had me leaning towards Hastings United. I had applied for about half a dozen more jobs, but if someone offered me one first… who knows I might just take the chance when presented with it.
July 11, 2037
I couldn’t believe my luck. Less than two weeks into my job search and I had already attended four interviews. After my Dover and Hastings interviews the other two English clubs with managerial vacancies, Wingate & Finchley and Bath City both contacted me for interviews.
I met with Gary Hodge, chairman of Wingate & Finchley who provided me with the best of the four offers in terms of what I would have to work with. A massive transfer budget of £40,000 and wage budget of £10,000 it was clearly enticing. Surprisingly, he only wants me to battle bravely against relegation, something I told him I could exceed them at least by avoiding relegation. He was happy for me to sign young players for the first team but did not want high profile players or develop players through the youth system.
Two days later I travelled further east to Bath and met with Bath City Callum Murray. It was a different story there. They had a debt in excess of £100,000 and while they were arguably the most prepared for the division, would have pretty tight restrictions on wages. A huge transfer budget of £45,000 seemed impressive but a wage budget of just £4,500 meant the type of players I could attract to the club was limited. He was the first chairman to demand I avoid relegation which of course I agreed with, keep them all on the same page and see who bit first.
I felt like I was pretty confident of staying in England. All the interviews had gone well and I was pretty pleased with the range of clubs on offer. I knew it would not be the level of football I had been accustomed to, but it was something I was passionate about – going back to my roots and really trying to build a club to be a strong contender in the future.
TWO CLUBS APPROACH LANDGRAF
July 12, 2037
FORMER Manchester City striker and Austrian legend Ralf Landgraf is reportedly deciding between two clubs who have approached the recently retired champion. Landgraf attended four interviews in the past fortnight, but two - Dover Athletic and Wingate & Finchley - are believed to have put contracts in front of Landgraf.
A source close to Landgraf said he was weighing up the two offers but Wingate & Finchley's contract offer was considerably more impressive with the Blues offering £475 per week compared to Dover's paltry £180 per week. The fact the Blues have never competed at this level is also attracting Langraft to accepting it. It is believed he will make his decision in the next 24 hours.
LANDGRAF BECOMES A BLUE
WINGATE and Finchley Football Club are thrilled to announce that world class player Ralf Landgraf has signed on as manager of the club for the next two seasons.
He will bring a wealth of knowledge at the elite level after more than 500 appearances in the English Premier League and Serie A and has expressed his desire to settle down and build from the groudn up. In our first season in the National League South, we are pleased to have a person of Ralf Landgraf's ability at the helm.
"I'm really pleased to accept the role of manager at Wingate and Finchley Football Club," Mr Landgraf said. "I am excited about the possibilities at the Blues and look forward to developing this club to be the best it can be. There is plenty to improve on, but plenty to work with and I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you at the club and know that you can come to me with anything."
On behalf of the club, chairman Gary Hodge would like to wish Mr Landgraf all the best in the upcoming season and seeing what he can do in charge of his first club.
A story set in the future? You have my interest.
2016-12-29 20:38#239585 Feliks :
A story set in the future? You have my interest.
Yeah I'd actually written one for FM 2016 but wanted to see how it would work physically before I actually tried posting one. I only signed up today but have been a keen reader and thought the idea might be something people are interested in
No-one will obviously know the players, but it's based around a (real?) fictional player based on one that FM17 has spat out.
July 12, 2037
I was a manager. It was a statement that was still yet to sink in as I packed the last of my suitcases to head to Finchley. Sure the job would be no Manchester City or AC Milan. The backroom staff would hardly be the quality of Arsenal or Napoli, but that was the love and attraction for me. I had only really been a part of elite organisations all my footballing life and being involved at a hands-on level with not only staff and players, but the fans as well. I want them to know I am as devoted to pushing this club up the English pyramid as anyone else and I am determined to turn Wingate and Finchley into a champion club.
Earlier I had done a bit of research into the playing group. It was no surprise they were keen to bring in some young players. There were only two under 25 and six of the 11 above 30 years of age. The fact the team had no depth whatsoever would be a challenge. I needed to bulk up the squad and the fact that it was the lower leagues meant I could afford to bulk up the depth without worrying too much about numbers or squad registration. I quickly scoured over the team notes provided by chairman Gary Hodge:
Kevin Long (GK) – Only keeper in the squad and at 33 years of age I'll be looking for back-up.
Paul Brown (D RC | DM) – Second youngest player in the squad at 24, Paul is a brave, determined player with great fitness.
Jason Wright (D LC | M C | ST) – A bit of a Mr Fix It who slots in where required but is more of a defender than anything else. His contract is running out so I’ll have to decide if he is worth keeping on.
Zac Pearce (D R | M R) – He’s a really strong physical player with great fitness and determination, he just is not going to be that exciting player likely to dominate. You don’t need 11 of them, and Pearce is someone who provides you with effort each week.
Robert Powell (D L | M L) – The youngest member of the team, he is very raw but has good stamina and strength. A long way to go to be an effective player at this level though.
Julian Egan (M C | D C | ST) – One of the side’s best players who is equally impressive offensively or defensively. Good marker but also good flair, he can run all day and is not afraid to show his aggression on the pitch.
Cedric Simpson (M L | AM LC) – The only overseas player in the squad, Simpson is A 31 year-old Jamaican with good technique and aggression and elite pace. A bit of an x-factor in the side and someone who could excite on the wing.
John Gee (M C | AM RC) – Gee has been captain of the squad the last couple of seasons and works well in central midfield with Egan. Really strong team man who leads by his actions, but his age is getting the better of him.
Paul Harrison (AM R | M R | ST) – Pacey winger who knows how to cross a ball. He is another good leader who has great vision and bravery.
Neil Bonner (ST | AM R) – Bonner is a determined 26 year-old with good pace, good finishing and a great team player. He’s a powerful shooter and runs with the ball often. Will start up front.
Marty Coyle (ST | AM LC) – Coyle is arguably the best player in the squad. A 29 year-old Irish striker, Coyle takes on opponents with pace and is very skilled at long shots. Can spray his attempts at times, but his high work rate ensures he makes second and third contests.
July 13, 2037
I was stunned when Gary Hodge welcomed me to my first day in charge. It wasn’t because of the facilities as I was not expecting much. But more, the staff. In the sense that there weren’t any. I not only had to try and find players on a shoestring budget, but staff as well. The first task was immediately finding an assistant manager and chief scout. I had to act and act fast.
The first signing to the club was a rather underwhelming one. In fact, it was more out of necessity than anything else. I put looked at all those available to take up a chief scout role and only three names were raised. His name was Chris Winnett, a 34 year-old experienced winger from Banbury United, a club nowhere near the South Conference. He was being hired as a chief scout, but with limited wages, I figured I might as well tempt him to become part of the rotation. He was far from anything special, but with 506 appearances and 18 years under his belt, he could at the very least offer some experience to the team.
The next day the two of use met in my office. “Welcome to the club Chris,” I said. “As you see we don’t have too much to work with, but if you’re on board we’re hoping together we can change that.” Winnett smiled. “Of course,” he said. “I couldn’t turn down the chance to work with a legend like yourself. I was honoured to have the opportunity.”
“You flatter me,” I replied. “But honestly my past has no bearing on our future. “We are here to build this club up and that all starts with you finding me players I can develop. “So who do you have for me?”
Winnett slid a few profiles towards me. “First player I’d like to point out is Matthew Hill,” he said. Hill is a 20 year-old Australian midfielder who is a bit of a “maverick” according to Winnett. Talent wise he could be anything , or certainly at lower levels. But his personality is described as “unambitious” and he doesn’t look to further himself as well as can be unprofessional at times. At 20 he could grow out of it and would not cost any transfer revenue but was still a bit of a risk.
The next player Winnett slide across the desk was Stephen O’Neill. Another young player with potential, O’Neill is a right attacking midfielder who the new chief scout believes could be a League 2 right winger in the future. He’s a pacey winger with a high work rate but needs to build his consistency and can lack intelligence at times. His tendency not to get stuck into rough challenges can put his teammates under some pressure so it would be something he needs to work on to compete at this level. A plus would be lower wages of between £80 and £210 per week.
Before we could go too much further, I had a knock on the door from Gary Hodge. “Sorry to bother you blokes at work but the press are here… and so would become the first of many media commitments.
July 13, 2037
Press conference at The Maurice Rebak Stadium
Nathan Wright – The Non-League Paper
“Given that you enjoyed a playing career at the top of the game, it has come as a shock to many that you have chosen to begin your managerial career at Wingate and Finchley. What were the reasons behind your decisions?”
“The chairman explained that this is a club looking to go places and I firmly believe in the project here.”
“We’re led to believe that you’re quite heavily focused on the fitness side of the game. How do you intend to factor that into your day-to-day management?”
“I intend to build a physically dominant team capable of answering any questions asked of it.”
“Wingate and Finchley clearly have lofty ambitions and hiring you is said to be the latest step in meeting them. Are you the right person to deliver on their apparent promise, especially in the short term?”
“I’m honoured to have been asked to guide this great club towards their goals and firmly hope we can experience some fantastic moments together.”
Charlie Atherton – BBC London 94.9
“While some managers are famous for their hands-on approach, others maintain a more reserved manner with their players. How do you see your management style?”
“I think things work best when players feel valued as people as well as footballers.”
“You have taken charge when it is widely expected that John Gee will leave the club. Can you hold onto him? Do you want to?”
“I don’t want to discuss speculation about individuals.”
“On the off-chance that any agents read your comments today, is there a particular area of the squad which you are looking to strengthen in the near future?”
“Games are won and lost around defence so I’ll be keen to stock up on reliable backs, while also providing pace and strength up the field with players capable of finishing up the other end.”
“It is often said that different managers favour different competitions. Will you be concentrating primarily on getting good results in the National League South?”
“The league has to be my priority, that’s what the fans want.”
Four hours later
I was sitting in my office flicking through some scouting reports when keeper Kevin Long knocked on the door. “Kevin,” I said. “Great to meet you I’m still yet to meet the players but looking forward to catching up.” “Thanks boss, he replied, but unfortunately this might not be a good first meeting,” he said. “Oh?” I replied puzzled. “You see, I told the old manager this and I think it’s only fair to tell you the same thing,” he said. “I feel like I’ve outgrown Wingate and Finchley and I want a move to a bigger club.”
A bigger club I thought! Come on mate you haven’t even played at this level before. “Listen Kevin, this is a new regime and a lot of things are going to change around here,” I said. “I think you should give it a few weeks to see if you still feel the same once I’ve settled in. We can talk about this again if you still feel the same way then,” I replied. I was in no mood to lose my only keeper.
Luckily he agreed. “You’re right, this should be a big chance for the situation to improve, I’ll wait and see what happens but if I still feel the same way, we’ll be talking about this again.” “Of course,” I replied, shaking his hand and thanking him for dropping by.
Unfortunately just a couple of hours later, Marty Coyle dropped by with the same concerns but he was not as forthcoming. “Look I appreciate what you’re looking to do, but I want to move on and get out as soon as possible,” he said. Great, I thought, losing our best player before the season starts. What’s worse is he’s on a month-to-month contract so we will get absolutely nada for him. This management stuff is harder than I imagined.
July 18, 2037
I finally got a right hand man. Mick Griffiths signed on as an assistant manager and at just 35 years of age, we would have to have the youngest staff in the league. He played his whole career at Nantwich Town and was captain for a season before being released. It was his first job in a non-playing role. But surprisingly at the sixth tier of English football, beggars can’t be choosers.
I was yet to secure any extra players heading into the first match against Combined Counties side Chertsey in the opening friendly. It would test the existing players and what they could do against a much lower rated opposition. With a whoppiung 19 people in attence at Alwyns Lane in Chersey - six of which travelled from Finchley - it was a far cry from my days at Wembley and the like.
Cedric Simpson got us off to a good start with a goal in the 26th minute before Jason Wright doubled up nine minutes later. From there it was a bit of a dull match, but we got the win and held the much weaker side goalless. Wright won Player of the Match for his efforts.
Transfers update to August 1:
David McDermott (Unattached) 24 year-old striker with elite finishing skills and good acceleration but is weak in the air. A player who I targeted through scout reports with some porential left to improve.
Tony Richardson (Oxford City) - 25 year-old central defender. Nothing special but a good marker with good aggression and solid acceleration. More of an enforcer more than anything else, but he could play a back-up role.
Ray Miller (Margate) - Another central defender and at 26 years-old still has a number of contributing years left. Pretty poor technically but stands out as a solid marker who positions himself well. Not afraid to take on an opponent.
Joshua McGoldrick (Kettering Town) - 26 year-old central midfielder with really good technique, first touch and passing skills. Plenty of flair yet aggression and a high work rate. He lacks a yard and is not defensively minded at all which is the knock.
Dennis Dyer (Canvey Island) - Another striker who has good acceleration and finishing skills. Not too much to write home about and rarely shows much defensively, but could be a back-up and at 22 years of age has some improvement left in him.
Ashley Morris (Margate) - A striker with a different set of attributes. Another 22 year-old but he is more of the aggressive, brave, hard working forawrd who runs both ways. Does lack finishing skills and some technical attributes but he's a strong brute.
Robbie Duggan (Unattached) - Just 18 years of age and heaps of improvement left in him. Came from the Wolves despite not playing a game. A future captain of the team with good acceleration and technique. Nothing too special but you know what you're going to get out of the young central midfielder.
Stephen Donnelly (Unattached) - Maybe I was overdoing it with strikers but on these hopeless pitches you can never be too safe with numbers. Great finishing and acceleration but that's about it. Really poor defensively and lacks a fair bit mentally and technically. Came out of Arsenal's youth academy but you can kind of see why they cut him. Hoping he can develop here.
Robbie Clarkson (Halesowen Town) - With only one player able to play in the left defender role I turned to 35 year-old Robbie Clarkson. He's been here there and everywhere over the years but he has strong mental ability. Slow as a tortoise and his techincal skills are on the decline, but he leads by example and fills a need.
Kye Gosling (Gosport Borough) - Kye is one of the more exciting prospects we signed up. Very raw and another striker, at 20 years of age he already has great finishing skills, strong leadership and works hard off the ball. Poor defensively like the other strikers, but the existing strikers were strong defensively.
Laurie Lynch (Needham Market) - While a lot of the players recruited might be back-ups I look to Laurie Lynch as a lock in the central defence. He's a good set piece player and really good positioning himself in the back half. Plenty of improvement and when he signed on he requested to play in his preferred role which I had no qualms about.
Mark Fleming (Unattached) - With so many poor passers in the team I identified a need to find players who could slot into central midfield and hit up forawrds with deadly passes. Mark Fleming is only 21 and while he would not be described as "deadly", he is one of the better passers and good acceleration and decision marking.
August 1, 2037
We trudged off the Maurice Rebak Stadium gutted from a late 1-0 loss to Milton Keynes Dons in the Long Testimonial game. I had no idea why it was the Long Testimonial... Kevin Long had played for them but had played no games whatsoever so it may little sense to be so attached to him but anyway. I guess they showed how attached they were when they slotted a bloody winner in the 88th minute.
We'd been so brave against a League 2 opponent and to drop our bundle in the last two minutes was pretty gutwrenching. It followed on from an equally brave 2-1 loss to Luton Town in the Gee Testimonial. Dean Flynn had wreaked havoc that day with his acceleration and agility, scoring two goals in four minutes. Marty Coyle's head helped us get a late consolation goal but it was not enough in front of a crowd in excess of 1100 people.
The results were promising at least ahead of what would be a hectic schedule facing off against Cheltenham Town at home in a week with a thrree day turnaround against Dover Athletic - one of the teams keen to have me on as manager. I would continue looking to the transfer market as we were still light-on in midfield and our defence could still use some work. My fear in regards to injury to strikers was already coming true with Neil Bonner and David McDermott picking up short-term knocks in the friendlies.
All eyes were set for the opening game of the year against Cheltenham Town on August 8.
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