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The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge

Started on 8 August 2020 by Aaron
Latest Reply on 24 August 2020 by TheLFCFan

The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge

With the announcement from Miles Jacobson and Sports Interactive confirming that Football manager 2021 will be delayed, and with myself not expecting it to hit shelves until around Christmas time I've made the decision to come back and take on a challenge that has always really interested me, but never gotten off the ground whenever I've made an attempt.

The Sir Alex Ferguson challenge has long been something I've wished to complete, or at least become half as successful as the legendary Scottsman. As some of you will know, I'm a huge Liverpool supporter and out of all the people here I'm the last person to praise anyone involved with Manchester United but one thing I can and have to accept is that Sir Alex is without doubt one of the greatest managers of our time, and did great things with my clubs biggest rivals.

Digging right into this, I'm going to set out all of my rules for this save and the achievements I need to make to complete the challenge.

Firstly, for my manager I will be starting off as a 44 year old Scottsman named Mac Ferguson with the birth date 31st January. No additional languages will be used, and the badges we'll start will be Continental Pro Licence with playing experience as an international player (continental level)

We'll have no arguments over badges as SAF had taken his by the time he was 24.

Challenge Rules and Restrictions

I must always have a player produced by your club's academy in every match squad.
I MAY sign permanently NO MORE THAN 11 players in a season, and ONLY 8 PERMANENT signings may feature in the first-team that season! Sir Alex never signed more than this ever in a season.
ALL Options should be unchecked except for "Do Not Add Key Staff"
I MAY sign any player that you can scout. I do not have to scout them, but I MUST be able to do so.
I MAY NOT ever do transfer business of any kind with your main rival. (Liverpool/United have not exchanged a player since 1964.) [Phil Chisnall to Liverpool]
I MAY NOT edit the game in any way other than cosmetic enhancements. No editor, no edited databases.
A relegation is immediate challenge over at any time.
A sacking is immediate challenge over at any time.
International management is NOT allowed at any time.
Any version of the game is OK that can meet these restrictions.

NOTE: For the "academy player in squad rule" -- if I do not have an eligible player registered at the beginning of the challenge, you do not have to be compliant until my first chance to register players (January 1st of your first season)

It isn't a requirement, but I SHOULD try to develop your academy and youth coaching to their highest levels, and I should try to establish a coaching tree of former players.

The Challenge

Holiday until November 6, and take over the club second-bottom of the Premier League. (Manchester United were second-bottom on 6 November, 1986)

In 27 seasons, I need to do THIS...


Win the FA Cup within 4 seasons - Ferguson won his first cup, the FA Cup vs Crystal Palace in 89/90
Win the Premier League within 7 seasons - Ferguson won his first Premier League in 92/93
Win a Premier League/FA Cup double within 8 seasons - Ferguson won his first Double with United in 93-94
Win Three Premier League/FA Cup Doubles within 13 seasons - Ferguson's Treble Included His Third League/FA Cup Double
Win the Premier League/FA Cup/Champions League Treble within 13 seasons - Ferguson Won the Infamous Treble in 98/99


Premier League (13)
FA Cup (5)
League Cup (4)
Community Shield (10)
UEFA Champions League (2)
UEFA Europa League (1) (Replaces the Cup Winners Cup) **
UEFA Super Cup (1)
FIFA Club World Cup (2) (One Replaces Intercontinental Cup)

So, off we go. So you all know, as of now I haven't even loaded this save into existence so just like you I've no idea what team I will get but it's going to be fun finding out. I've no idea how this is going to go, and joining in with an inevitable relegation battle in our first season we'll be tough given I've little experience in the midst of one.

I'll be updating from my own perspective, there will be no creative writing of any kind I want to keep things as simple as possible so I can minimise the thinking time and update you all on the save as much as I can.

If the challenge ends, the challenge ends. If not, then we'll be coming for that knighthood.

See you all in the next update when we find out who I'll be managing!
Oh yeah yeah
Good luck with this challenge mate, I've seen it attempted quite a lot over the years :) Be interesting to see who you will manage, part of me is kind of hoping it's Newcastle, as that would be a fun save imo. Regardless, you'll have to hit the ground running just to avoid relegation!
Justice: Oh Yhyh

James: Thanks mate, i've never had much luck with it before so who knows. I'm not holding out much hope to be honest lol. There's a few teams I would definitely take, Newcastle being one of them but please lord don't let it be Brighton or Norwich
fm managers dream come true

Club Reveal

So like I said in the previous update I had no idea which team I'd be taking on for this challenge but after loading up the save and holidaying through till the 6th November (The date Sir Alex took over at Manchester United. I now know who the club we will be managing is. I've mixed feelings about it too.

This is not going to be an easy save, I've never managed to get any success taking on this challenge before as I am woeful in a relegation battle so this really will test all of my managerial abilities to the maximum.

One rule I'm worried about following is playing a footballer who has come up through the clubs ranks in EVERY game. This isn't because I'm unwilling to, or because it's not my style. It is, if I'm in position to do so. The problem with it is I'm worried that as I course through the matches I may forget here and there to put a homegrown player in the team.

But I shall do my very best to remember.

So who sits 19th in the Premier League, on the 6th November 2020. I know you're all itching to find out!

Norwich will be the club we takeover to try and complete the mammoth task of replicating Sir Alex's achievements in the English Game.

Not a club I was hoping for I have to say but one things for sure I'm happy to keep an open mind and see where we can take things here. I know Norwich have a few players I actually rather like the look of. Cantwell, Lewis, Buendia all on that list.

I think this team definitely has the capability to stay up (in-game) but regardless, it's still going to be a big ask to fight against the drop.

The more I think about it though, the more I become comfortable with the challenge here at Norwich. They're not a team I've used this year before and in reality I've tried out almost every avenue in the Premier League so far. So it'll be as fresh for me as it is for you.

Now, Norwich's trophy cabinet currently looks as follows.

Norwich Honours
Sky bet Championship (4)
League Cup (2)
Sky Bet League One (1)

Doesn't exactly scream successful now, does it? But not to worry, if any Norwich supporters are reading - here's what our cabinet should look like by the end of the challenge.

Norwich Honours
Premier League (13)
FA Cup (5)
League Cup (6)
Community Shield (10)
Sky bet Championship (4)
Sky Bet League One (1)
UEFA Champions League (2)
UEFA Europa League (1)
UEFA Super Cup (1)
FIFA Club World Cup (2)

It's going to be a long hard road but I can't wait to find out where this journey takes us.

As for my homegrown rule, I've figured out that Cantwell is a result of Norwich's youth system, so to begin with this part of the challenge shouldn't be too hard.

November - New Beginnings

We begin this mammoth task with Norwich sitting not so pretty at 19th in the Premier League table having mustered 5 points from 11 games in what has been a slow start to life in the first division for the newly promoted Canaries.

With Man City in my first game for the club, it was looking quite likely that we would remain on 5 points, and even potentially drop a spot in the league to rock bottom. Here's how the league stood when i joined the club.

So with the Citizens atop the table on goal difference with a game in hand we were completely up against it even hosting the Pep's financial giants. We begun the game looking particularly promising on either wing lining up with Buendia on the right and Cantwell on the left. With Aarons and Lewis in behind them both it seemed to me that our biggest threat lay out on the flanks and so we went into the game with a 4-1-2-1-2. A Defensive midfielder occupying the space just ahead of Godfrey and Zimmerman, and an attacking midfielder in behind Pukki and Drmic.

With lots of space being left through the middle of the park it was my intention to invite City in between our midfielders where we could attack the ball and regain possession quickly. We started very well and executed the plan perfectly in the initial stages but of course City still took the lead through Aguero just before the half time whistle.

The players were looking sharp and giving it their all, and so we left the tunnel ready for another half of good football. It's 0-0, I thought to myself. Win the second half, gain a point at the most and 15 minutes in Vrancic controlled the ball with his left on the outside of the Man City area and thundered the ball into Ederson's top right corner.

Alisson would never.

We held out until the end, but due to a win from the team below we still dropped to 20th in the table but taking points of Man City would potentially be huge come the end of the season!

With an international break, we had plenty of time to work on my newly implemented tactics in training, we started with a lot of minor injuries and so a few of them returned to full fitness as we came up to the game against West Ham at the Olympic Stadium.

If we're to survive, it's games like this we must win and win we did. The first half was top notch from us as we ran them ragged for 45 minutes. Shot came after shot and soon enough Pukki was able to break through Moyes' trusted back 4 to score his 3rd goal of the season after rounding the keeper nicely.

West Ham had the lions share of possession, and battered our goal with shots in the second half. Even scoring, with it ultimately being disallowed for offside to our relief. A bit of a shock maybe for the boys to go 1-0 up maybe? They seemed to shit the bed a little towards the end but what matters is we came away with the three points and that is the positive we need to take away from the match.

At the end of November, we sit 17th. After 2 games against City and West Ham who'd have thought we'd already pull ourselves out of the drop zone? As tight as it was, I'm taking nothing for granted. much more football is still to be played and we could fall back in at any moment with the smallest lapse in concentration.

We move onto the Christmas period where we begin Decembers run of games against Wolves at Carrow road. I'm excited to see where we'll find ourselves come new years, and I'm also looking forward to seeing who we can bring into the club. Making my stamp on this team as soon as possible is something I'm looking to do.

I think a new striker is definitely needed to partner Pukki up front. Does Drmic cut the cloth? We'll see.

December - Change In Fortunes?

Second month in charge at Norwich and we're heading up toward the small Christmas break before the FA Cup 3rd round in which we will play...Liverpool.

Yes, Liverpool. We could've got any league 2, 1 or even championship side. But no. We'll be hosted at Anfield by the European Champions instead.

Before that though, we have a job to do in the league before the turn of the new year. With Wolves up first at home and picking up 4 points from the last two games I was confident we might be able to find ourselves a result but it seems Wolves had other ideas as they fight for European football at the other end of the table.

Raul Jimenez headed in the first goal of the game to break the deadlock and Dendoncker nestled in a curled effort from the edge of the box at the beginning of the second half to snatch all three points away from us in what was a relatively uninspired display in comparison to our last two fixtures.

Bournemouth were also able to best us 3-2 having scored in the 95th minute. We were initially 2-0 down due to two Callum Wilson goals before 20 minutes but we were able to come back with 2 of our own from Cantwell and prospect Adam Idah who latched onto a lovely lobbed Pukki pass and smashed home the equaliser. A better performance, luck just wasn't on our side.

We went to Spurs with a slightly different set up pulling one of our strikers back into the AMC role to fill out the midfield slightly better in a game I expected to lose the midfield battle in regardless. A little more support in the centre couldnt hurt.

It's clear our problem is at the back of the team, as we're leaking goals left right and centre. Amazingly we took the lead 3 times in this game and still managed to come out of it with only 1 point. A win would've seen us come out of the drop zone which we've been in since the first day of the month, but another point against a big six team is good enough.

Then our luck began to turn, we won 2-1 against Southampton in what was clearly a nervy a match for supporters. Another win at home would see us in pole position to jump out of the zone against Watford in the next game but sadly despite dominating for a lot of it we still lost by 1 goal to nil.

In the last game of the month against Sheffield, a must win game against a relegation candidate such as ourselves - We came out with all three points for the 2nd time in 3 games which I would say looks more to me like mid table form.

It was 1-1 for most of the game and we did ride our luck a little relying on an 85th minute penalty from Adam Idah to win us the game but a win is a win and we'll take it.

In the last game of the year we give the fans something to celebrate jumping out of the zone once again. January only gets harder with more top 6 teams to play but with the right recruitment and effort in training I'm certain we can stay away from the relegation zone and progress next year.

This month, my player of the month has got to go to Todd Cantwell. He suffered with a couple of minor injuries and both times managed to come back and score important goals against Spurs and Southampton. A top effort from our academy graduate!

January - The Skin Of Our Teeth

It seems as though in every single game we want to push our luck as far as it can possibly go. Given how often we do this it's a miracle we're even one spot out of the drop zone let alone rock bottom.

January begun disgustingly with a fixture at Anfield in which we were toppled an astonishing 7-1. No I don't want to talk too much about this as really there's not much to say. You all know the drill when it comes to playing Liverpool. It's simply not an easy task for any team in the league.

Next game was against Newcastle in which again we were utterly dominated and embarrassed. 4 goals to 1 I was left licking my wounds wondering if this was the collapse of all the hard work we'd put in during our first two months.

It was rock bottom Aston Villa next though at home in a must win game. Both sides battling it out for survival it was going to be a nervy affair. We took the lead early on before early in the second half Jack Grealish scored Villa's equaliser after some before defensive showings from our back four.

We scored again roughly 20 minutes later, and it looked like all hope was lost for the three points when Hourihane tucked home his 87th minute equaliser. But a cross in from Buendia 4 minutes later with Cantwell latching on for a header into the bottom corner saw us run out the victors. A massive 3 points.

Our first game now against the team who inspired this challenge. Manchester United at home. I never held much hope here but I knew with a bit of effort we could get something here. They're not the side they once were and we proved that to everybody here coming out with a 1-1 draw.

They took the lead early, and we dominated the entire game. We even missed a penalty in the 60th minute but finally it was Drmic with his first ever goal for Norwich that got us a point in the 90th minute. We were actually really unlucky not to win this one by a few goals.

Lastly was Watford, and another must win. We were looking for revenge here today after they beat us 2-1 at Carrow road though neither side could must a single goal in this tightly knitted fixture.

Both teams walked away with a point, as Watford would continue to sit one spot above us in the table despite our game in hand on them. That may come in hand later on in the season.

Still outside of the zone but not by much. We need to keep grinding out results every so often but next month won't be so easy. We've got a must win game against Leicester at Carrow Road to begin with but then we've Chelsea, and Liverpool to play.

2 games in a row against the Reds.

Lord give me strength.
Good to see you back! Exciting challenge and one you are doing very well at so far early doors. The result against United will be a real confidence booster and winning that game in hand will be huge putting you as high as 14th as it stands. Going well, good luck!
Seb: Thanks bro good to be back. The result against United will hopefully spur us on to bigger and better things in the coming months I just hope we can take advantage of whats in front of us. Big month ahead. survival is key to this challenge going literally anywhere hahaha

February - A Special Surprise

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this month wasn't going to go so well taking into consideration the 5 fixtures in store for us for the month of February.

First up we took on Leicester in a game which out of all of them we looked most likely to win on paper. As is the nature of football though, that was easier said than done. We went down 2-0 to a very hard working Leicester side who in recent years have surprised many a little like wolves who beat us earlier in the season - Pushing for those places in the top 6.

Of course we were powerless to stop Leicester in their tracks but the next game had a little more in the way of a surprise for even ourselves.

Chelsea at home, and just like in the Manchester United game we put in a marvellous account of ourselves and this time we were able to run out as the winners as we so deserved to do against the Red Devils as well.

It was Ondrej Duda who nodded home the goal which would lead us in as high as 15th and Chelsea who are currently fighting for their right to call themselves Champions would leave Carrow Road with absolutely nish.

Yet another top 6 team we take points off, and we'd need every point we could get with Liverpool up next in the league and not just once, but twice.

We can all imagine how this would go as at Anfield we were no match for the reds who continued to steam roll ahead just as they did against us in the FA Cup although this time we managed to keep the scoreline a little less embarrassing. 4-0 at full time was the score.

Next we would welcome them to our own place, where although in recent years they seem to have had no trouble coming to - We made sure they knew they were in a game. We were by no means fantastic, in fact our goal was peppered with shots all game long but Liverpool could not find a way through.

Very late on Drmic had the chance to break the deadlock but at the moment he was probably the last man on earth we could've asked to be handed a chance so golden. He spooned it wide and the opportunity went begging. The chance to beat Liverpool couldn't be taken but we sent them on their way with nothing but a point, and also kept a clean sheet. Progress.

Last but not least was Tottenham. Now we should have beaten Spurs last time out as we took the lead an astonishing three times at their ground and we gave them just as good this time round too. They took the lead early on in the 15th minute but clearly were too busy celebrating as we caught them on the break just a minute later and equalised through Pukki.

Grant Hanley who has come into the team of late in place of an injured Zimmerman managed to scurry home a short ranged shot from a messy goal line scramble just after half time and we looked well on top - It took Sissoko of all people to produce something special from the edge of our area to deny us 3 points.

A much better month than I could ever have hoped for, we played top 4 teams all the way through February and came out with a HUGE 5 points which we'll be detrimental in our fight for survival come the run in.

Onto everyone's favourite month in England - March. Where we'll get a new injection of youth...

March - The Race For Safety

Three games to bring to you for March now and my my we went hell for leather in this one.

First up was Southampton who currently sit 18th in the table so winning this game would be more important than any of the points we might have gained prior to this one.

We dominated saints all the way through and made things look rather easy going 3-0 up before the 40th minute had struck. The best first half performance I'd seen from us since I joined the club and it made for wonderful viewing.

Idah who's been fantastic recently after coming in for out of favour Drmicm scored only 2 minutes in from a couple of yards out when Cantwell's strike was parried out to the young striker. Onel Hernandez coming in for Emi Buendia finished just 15 minutes later and Teemu Pukki cropped up with another vital goal on the 40th minute.

2 minutes later, Southampton got one back, were the worries starting to set in?

Short answer, no. We kept going through till the 85th minute where things got crazy. Substitute Stiepermann scored before Redmond and Ings went up the other end and put two injury time consolation goals in the back of our net.

4-3 the final score, things looked a lot closer than they might seem.

Bournemouth next and we had a score to settle after last times 3-2 loss. This time would be different. A fantastic 3-0 win on the night with Adam Idah scoring another 2 goals and his strike partner Pukki stat padding once again for the 3rd in the 85th minute.

Bournemouth were no match for us this time and we made sure they left empty handed. Our fight for survival was now more looking like a fight for top half.

We'd already beaten West Ham too at the Olympic stadium and to do it again would be fantastic. On the back of a wonderful run of form it seemed we lacked that cutting edge that had gotten us as far as this.

Anderson struck home on the 40th minute and we went into half time 1 goal to nil.

Even in the second half we rode our luck as I watched West Hams strikers pour shot after shot wide of the mark. My decision to take of Pukki instead of Idah was met with thunderous applause come the 89th minute as he thundered home his 4th of the month. The goal that would win us a point, and himself young player of the month!

An unbeaten month against three more relegation candidates. I couldn't ask for much more. Despite the poor performance against West Ham I can't praise the boys enough for what they put in against Southampton and Bournemouth. We leaked goals against Saints but these things happen. We've surely all but secured another season in the Premier League?

And now what we've all been waiting for...

Of course we had a lot more come through our intake but these in my opinion are the most noteable with Juan Diaz looking like he could in the future become Norwich's answer to Roberto Firmino.

He's going to fit right into the senior squad and I hope to get him some nice game time as our striker options are stretched few and far between.

Craig Morrison I believe will be best deployed to retrain as a centre back, and Tommy Neil looks like a fantastic prospect to backup Jamal Lewis on the left. Potentially as early as next season.

April - Ever So Close

It's all smiles for Norwich fans despite a poor run of form in the month of April. With Man City and Arsenal to begin with it's fair to say we weren't holding out much hope for a particularly brilliant beginning to our run in but with our recent form against the top 6 we were quietly confident going into both games.

Though we were no match for City and they made sure to make it known just how far ahead they are of us in all aspects. Smashing us 3-0, it was a delightful day for Raheem Sterling and co as they chase Liverpool in search for a 7th English title.

The Citizens had been needlessly slipping up in places no one expected all season and thus have let Liverpool somewhat run away with the title.

Arsenal were up next and just like City, were vying for another win to keep them contention for that elusive top 4 spot. The Gunners have been without Champions League Football for a while now and Mikel Arteta seems to have sprung new life into the club, giving them hope that they may soon be back among Europe's elite.

We gave Arsenal a much better go than we did City but we were unfortunately beaten down again, 2-0 at full time as Eddie Nketiah showed just why he's rated so highly as one of Englands next big things.

Wolves had also beaten us prior to the Christmas period and again did so at the Molineux. Wolves are a different breed compared to what they were in the early days of the 10s. With Ruben Neves dictating the middle of the park and Raul Jimenez nodding in just about every perfectly timed Adama Traore cross it's hard to even get a nick on them.

Another 2-0 loss which made it 3 on the bounce and we were left in search of a win, looking like we could potentially drop further down the table.

With 4 games left it was squeaky bum time, and we were up next away from home to Burnley. Not a fixture you want to get out of a bad run of form but despite the stereotypes of how stubborn the claret and blues can be at home we managed to finally get that much needed win!

Things were all square at 1-1 for most of the game and we even had two Adam idah goals disallowed which toward the end of the game was looking like a right kick in the teeth, but just as Buendia did...Trybull stepped up from deep to latch onto a cross pulled back by the Argentine and smashed home the winner into the top right of Nick Popes net!

9 points clear with 3 games left to play which means if Watford and Southampton lose their games in hand, and we get so much as a point to Brighton at Carrow Road, we secure survival.

I never believed we'd do so well but here I stand proven wrong, I believe this challenge is just getting started.

April - The Challenge Begins

I sit here now as the manager of a club who will be playing Premier League football in the 2020/21 season. We were well up against it from Christmas time and since then we have come on leaps and bounds, developing and learning the new tactic and formation to get the most out of ourselves on the pitch.

I knew that to really get this challenge underway, survival was probably going to be the hardest part and I'm glad to say we have indeed survived after beating Brighton 3-1 at home despite even going down a goal to nil.

The season is now over, and with a win against Palace and an undeserved loss to Everton we finish the season sitting pretty on 42 points.

In the last two games I felt it necessary to actually start Juan Diaz to give him some much needed game time and experience and in BOTH games he got a goal. His first goal for the club against Crystal Palace makes him Norwich's youngest ever goalscorer at 17 years and 242 days.

I have to say around the Christmas period I really thought this was going to be a lot harder than it was but we developed so well and came together in the dying months of the season and really pushed to make sure things were a lot more comfortable for our fans and I'm proud to say so.

So without further ado we'll run through a bit of a season review.

At the top of the table is of course Liverpool. winning their first Premier League title in 30 long years by a country mile, it was never really in doubt.

Chelsea, City, and Spurs occupy the rest of the top 4 spaces as Man United and Arsenal both narrowly miss out due to losses to Aston Villa and Bournemouth on the final day.

Man United fans will be gutted to miss out on playing with Europe's elite on goal difference.

As for the other end of the table, Watford, Sheffield and Southampton all go down to the Championship. We'll be looking to see if there are any good players we can nick from them on a cut off price in the transfer window!

In other news, we also signed a player before the Brighton game, one I'm hoping will have a huge impact on the team.

Herbie Kane joins us for only 975K, he currently plays for Hull in the Championship on loan from Liverpool and as soon as I saw this deal available for so cheap I had to snap him up. He's young, and better than any of our midfielders in my opinion.

He'll sit deep in the centre of the field in our tactic which I will show you now.

This is the tactic we've played since I joined the club and since then we've come on leaps and bounds perfecting the ideas I've put in place. We've trained ridiculously hard to get things right and I'm happy to say we're now reaping the rewards of all our hard work.

Herbie will fit in nicely just ahead of the defence which I'm hoping to improve with another English Centre back. With one more that makes our entire defence all English minus the goalkeeper which for team cohesion reasons I believe will be really important.

I want a good core of English players in this side and to do that to begin with in defence but if the right players aren't available I will happily take the hit up front and look for something considered more "exotic"

Elsewhere, lets look at who won everything else that could one day potentially be available to us.

Barclays Premier League: Liverpool
Carabao Cup: Liverpool
FA Cup: Liverpool
Community Shield: Man City
UEFA Champions League: Atletico Madrid
UEFA Super Cup: Liverpool
FIFA Club World Cup: Liverpool

Not at all one side eh?

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