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Visca el Barca with Sergi Samper

Celebrating a decade playing Football Manager with a repeat of my first ever save - FC Barcelona
Started on 12 June 2022 by Archey
Latest Reply on 17 September 2022 by Archey
Archey's avatar Group Archey
1 yearEdited
Background: 10 years ago on this day, 12th June, I came across this game called Football Manager for the very first time. I was already a huge football fan but the ability to be in control of running a football team as a manager seemed very intriguing. The game immediately struck a chord with me and I became a lifelong fan of the FM franchise. Fast forward to today, 12th June 2022, I have played several hundreds or thousands of hours on FM across multiple seasons. Due to some work engagements, I couldn’t play the game for almost last 2 years but here I am now, excited to start my first save on FM 2022.
Introduction: Since we are on the topic of celebrating my 10 years of playing FM, this save has to be the repeat of my first ever save on FM, my beloved club – FC Barcelona. While they were defeated that year by Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals, they were still one of the most dominant forces in Europe with 2 Champions League titles in last 4 years in addition to their stronghold on the La Liga. Unfortunately, things have turned worse since then. The Champions League title in 2015 was followed by a wretched downhill journey, thanks to some questionable management, where the club now finds itself in deep in debt, losing probably their most precious player in history and no signs of recovery. The objective is to clean up the mess at the club, bring in some exciting young talent and make FC Barcelona a dominant club in Europe once again. While I’m not attaching any rigid list of things to achieve or a timeline, multiple La Liga titles and a Champions League title would be a likely measure of success. An academy graduate leading this successful charge would definitely be a bonus. And finally, to give this save a little twist, I’ll be playing this as Sergi Samper. While Sergi was one of the most exciting midfield talents coming through the academy, injuries hampered his career big time and he now finds himself playing with Andres Iniesta in Vissel Kobe in Japan in bid to resurrect his career. He has been a key player for me in several FM saves across seasons, whether at Barca or somewhere else, so I thought why not let him return to his home and lead Barca back to glory as a manager. Sergi and I were born just a few days apart so makes this even more relatable. He will be starting with National level past playing experience and no coaching badges. Time to roll now!!!
Pre-Season: The first transfer window is disabled, so we don’t have to worry about any immediate incomings or outgoings. I’ll be taking the first few months to identify any potential targets to scout and figuring out how to move on some of the big earners eating into our wage bill but the focus will remain on developing some of our homegrown youngsters. I did add quite a few staff to fill in the vacant positions across the coaching, scouting and medical teams.

I’m fairly happy with the quality of incoming staff and now we have the best backroom staff in most of departments across the entire league.

As an inexperienced young manager there are obvious question marks over my ability to handle the pressure of expectations and lead this club towards success. The player support stands at average in red while the board have straight away refused to negotiate on their club vision, which considering the club’s situation, seem a little too ambitious. While Champions League qualification is understandable, reaching the semi-finals in UCL might be little difficult and bringing high profile signings with 0 transfer budget is neither something achievable nor something I’m interested in.

Moving on to the tactics, I want to continue the possession based, high-tempo, high-pressing style following the Cryuffian principles but would be flexible to add some tweaks to give it a personal flavour as well.
My base tactic will be the 4-3-3 tiki-taka customized to play at high tempo. The two ball-playing centre-backs to initiate the attacks with the right back playing as IWB to support numbers in the midfield. The width will be provided with my left back (playing as CWB) and the right winger playing high and wide on the flanks. The left winger will operate as an inside-forward and partner the striker in the penalty box. The midfield trio is comprised of a pivot responsible for initiating attacks from the deep while holding his position, an advanced playmaker as the key creative outlet and a mezzala playing higher up the pitch and supporting attacks.

The alternate tactic is a toned-down version of my base tactic with slightly more focus on verticality instead of elaborate build up play.

I have reinstated Gerard Pique as our captain and handed the young Ronald Araujo the vice-captain’s responsibility in a big leap of faith. Sergio Busquets was happy to make way. I’m looking forward to Araujo and Eric Garcia to be my long-term leaders in the coming years.

The training focus in the pre-season has been to get their fitness levels up with heavy focus on gaining tactical familiarity. We played 5 pre-season friendlies winning 4 of them with a 3-1 defeat coming at the hands of Bayern. Overall, I’m looking confident going into the season but well aware of the gap in quality to some of our bigger rivals. Let’s GO!!!
Archey's avatar Group Archey
1 yearEdited
August 2021: We got off to a flying start in the league being the only team with a 100% record,3 wins in 3 with 6 goals scored and 2 conceded. While the fixtures were fairly easy, I’m really disappointed with my team for not maintaining clean sheets in two games.

We even picked our very first Manager of the Month Award!!

The board too seems satisfied with my performance. While it’s too early to judge me on several parameters, the lack of support from players remains a key concern (Do share your suggestions on how to win over my players in the reply, if you have any)

The Champions League group stage draw is out and we have been handed a fairly tough Group G, alongside Inter, RB Leipzig and Brondby IF. I’m already unsure with what’s gonna happen since board expects us to reach till the semi finals at the least.

A tough September awaits us for sure. See you with the next update!!!
September: A tough month indeed. We managed just 2 wins in 6 including none in the Champions League. We have conceded the top spot in the league to Atletico Madrid but are level on points.

Next 2 fixtures in UCL against Brondby are crucial to determine our progress in the competition.

There was one match which I thoroughly enjoyed though. A miraculous last-minute winner against Vallecano. Drawing 1-1 despite being utterly dominant with 28 shots (14 on target) I threw on Luuk de Jong as a target man and Adama Traore on the right wing and the pair combined to score the winner with Adama picking up the ball at half way and putting on his after-burners, drove through the Vallecano defence before hanging up a cross from the byline which Luuk headed home at the near post to spark off crazy celebrations as we maintained our 100% record in the league (ended by Betis in the next match though)

The board is somewhat satisfied so far with my performance. While tactics and playing style have been obvious positives, concerns remain around recent results on the pitch.

October – which happens to be El Classico month – awaits us next!!!
October: What does perfection look like?

This. This right here has to be one of the best month I have ever had on Football Manager.
6 wins out of 6 - Check
14 goals scored and 0 GOALS CONCEDED! - Check
2-0 El Classico victory over our bitterest rivals - Check
Top of the league - Check
And no wonder they awarded me yet another Manager of the Month award

We have gone top of the table in La Liga and opened up a 5-point lead over our nearest rivals, Atletico Madrid (10 points ahead of Real Madrid who are in 5th place)

A win over Brondby has put back in contention in our UCL group

As far as the board is concerned, they are satisfied with my performances so far. While results on pitch picked up this month, some of the players have started to have concerns regarding their contracts as our financial position is still bad.

I did spend some time to set up several scouting assignments this month as I begin my search for some talented youngsters for future. The criteria are to look for players under the age of 23 with ‘Superb’ potential in the following countries
Jose Maria Bakero – Poland, Slovakia, Czech, Belarus
Jordi Cruyff – Netherlands, Denmark
Jon Andoni Goikoetxea – Greece, Albania, Turkey, Cyprus
Jerome Bigot – France, Belgium
Radu Baicu – Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine
Bojan Krkic – Serbia, BIH, Croatia, Montenegro
David Trezeguet - Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay
Wolfgang Grobe – Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary
Juarez Fischer – Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru
Aurelio Pereira – Potugal, Spain
Richard – Italy, Slovenia

That’s it for this month, will back with November 2021 updates next!!!
Change of plans for me as monthly updates were getting too exhaustive so I decided to go on a marathon play till the end of the season and here is how my first season with Barcelona went like.
End of Season:
We continued our fine form to clinch the league with 5 games to go. I experimented a bit in the last few games and gave chances to some youngsters from the academy which meant that I couldn’t touch the 100 point mark which looked very much in sight.

The key to our success was this fine streak of consecutive wins which took us clear of all our rivals and gave us enough breathing room towards the end

I managed to win the Manager of the Year in my very season first only.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t replicate our La Liga success to other tournaments where we lost to Valencia in the Copa Del Rey and Chelsea knocked us out in the last-16 of the Champions League.

Here is the in-game end of season review covering our results, performances and accolades

With the objective of winning La Liga achieved, I’ll be setting sights on the Champions League next season. We have built an excellent core of young talents and will be spend the summer bringing few more in and clearing out the deadwood to continue improving our finances. See you with the next update.

#Visca el Barca
Atlético fell off :O
2022-07-10 13:02#288933 Justice : Atlético fell off :O
Yeah, it was crazy! Can you imagine Diego Simeone got sacked right after this?!
Villareal overtook them for the last Champions League spot on the last day
2022 Pre-Season and Summer Transfer Window:
My first summer transfer awaits me and I was very excited but a quick glance at the finances ended that excitement pretty soon. The club still working with tight finances meant that I had to be careful with my transfer ambitions or raise some additional funds through player sales. I looked at my squad and outlined some big earners with tremendous value like Griezmann, Coutinho and Pjanic.
Alas! All 3 just refused to move at all. No more 100 million Euros budget then :( I turned my attention to some other players that I could move on. This included the likes of Aubameyang, Lenglet, Umtiti. So, I sold them for not-so-great prices but opened up some room on my wage bill. While Coutinho just refused to go anywhere Griezmann and Pjanic at least moved on season-long loan deals opening up massive wage bills, some portion of which I converted into additional transfer budget.
Here are the outgoings

In addition to this I did lose Sergi Roberto on a free transfer to Spurs and there were few more loan deals where Braithwaite went to Rennes while Griezmann followed Messi to PSG and Pjanic went to Napoli. I gave chances to several young talents from the under-19s and B team during the pre-season and moved most of them on loans to retain a very lean first team squad.
Now coming to incoming players, I had been scouting heavily for several months and had already built of shortlist of players to target. My first attempt to sign Andre Onana on a free transfer went wrong as I didn’t have the wage budget when I entered the negotiations and by the time I could free up some funds he was off to PSG. My attempts to sign centre-back Tanguy Nianzou from Bayern ended with same fate and he was snapped up by Real Madrid. Then I started to move on players to build some space on wage bill and turned my attention to other areas that needed strengthening and started searching for someone to beef up our attack which lost quite a few players due to transfer outs or ending of loan deals (My player of the season Adama :( ). While I have been heavily focused on young talents, I was itching to sign a superstar to make a statement in a transfer window. And that’s when I came across Robert Lewandowski. He was transfer listed by Bayern with just 1 year left in his existing contract. I signed him straight away (albeit in an expensive deal). This was followed by 2 young talents: Inter striker/AM Sebastiano Esposito (well I had to, right) and Santos centre-back Kaiky. I loaned Kaiky back to Santos for 5 months and sent Esposito to Hoffenheim to get some game time as a regular starter. I was looking to sign 1 player who could play CB/RB but just could not decide between 2 Ajax youngsters Jurrien Timber and Devyne Rensch, so will wait for the next window and scout them more in the coming months.

I renewed contracts of most of my key players but Araujo just refuses to sign the extension with just 12 months left. I could have sold him with several bids coming from the likes of Man United, Juventus etc but I really want to hold on to him even if it means losing on free next season. Couple of youngsters, Santi Mingo and Ilias Akhomach have been included in the squad and here is it how it lines up.

We have had a spotless pre-season and start to the league with a 100% record with Lewandowski banging goals for fun.

Let’s see where this season this takes us because remember board is looking for Champions League success this season and La Liga isn’t that high a priority with only top-4 finish expectation. See you with a mid-season update!!
In Lewandowski you have arguably one of the greatest goal scorers in history. He could go on to break records for you, which is mad considering who holds the records for Barca....
2022-07-13 19:10#288960 Justice : In Lewandowski you have arguably one of the greatest goal scorers in history. He could go on to break records for you, which is mad considering who holds the records for Barca....
He is indeed. He is on fire at the moment but the fact that he is already 34 not sure how long can I get from him.

To be honest his physical attributes are still pretty good :P
Feb 2023 Mid-season Update:
We picked up right from where we left last season, playing good football and getting results as well but unlike last time we are facing stiff competition. Currently we sit 2nd on table 6 points behind Real Madrid but having 2 games in hand.

We qualified for the knockouts in Champions League but unfortunately have been drawn against mighty Bayern (God save us)

We have also reached the semis of Copa del Rey where we could face one of Real Madrid, Betis or Atletico Madrid.
Let’s look at how our players have fared so far

Lewandowski leading the goal scoring charts is no surprise but apart from him it’s Pedri and Ferran Torres who have been setting the stage on fire with their performances
Some recognition for our players in the year end ceremony as well

Big news from the January transfer window, Pique has asked to leave the club and he is off to Villareal on loan for the rest of the season with permanent move set for summer. Coutinho was signed by Juventus on free transfer but we managed to get some money by asking them to buy in January itself while Araujo will be off to Manchester United in summer on a free transfer. To offset Pique’s loss we identified Benjamin Pavard as the replacement but little delay in decision making meant that he signed a contract extension with Bayern. We did have Kaiky finally join us but were clearly lacking depth for a grueling second half (thanks to the extended winter break due to the FIFA World Cup)
Let’s see where we stand at the end of the season!!
May 2023 End of Season Update:
And the season ends in disappointment. We lost the La Liga to Real Madrid by 6 points. A poor second half meant we were always trailing Real Madrid but were still in with a glorious chance on the final day. We were 3 points behind with a final game against Villareal while Real Madrid had to play Atletico in a feisty Madrid derby. But unfortunately, we lost to Villareal and Real swatted aside Atletico Madrid with ease to clinch the title.
In the Champions League also we put a stunning performance to dump mighty Bayern out in last 16, only to bow out against RB Leipzig in the quarters. What makes it worse is that we were leading 3-1 after the first leg (yeah an absolute meltdown in second leg to lose 4-0)
The saving grace of the season was Copa del Rey, which we won to ensure that we didn’t go down trophyless. The final victory came against Real Madrid made it sweeter.
Individual highlight of the season was Ansu Fati scoring 7 goals in a match, IN A MATCH!!!

Before I go to season review, a funny instance that happened in contract demand conversation with Sergi Busquets. He is 34, at the twilight of his career, saying he is a better player than few years ago so wants an improved deal, ridiculous.

Here is the season review detailing our performances and accolades.

We have the La Liga and Copa del Rey, all for Champions League next season then!!!
2023 Summer Transfer Window and Pre-season update:
Okay all set to make another push for that elusive Champions League trophy. We have lost the rock of the defence Araujo and coupled with Pique’s departure means that we need a world class centre back. In addition, need to add depth to the squad in various positions.

We started the window with getting Devyne Rensch from Ajax. A versatile player who will play as our right back while providing cover at centre back and defensive midfield too. I had been scouting him for quite some time and was wrapped up early into the window.

Then we needed a world class centre back. I identified 3 names, Alessandro Bastoni, Matthis de Ligt and Joska Gvardiol. Bastoni was snapped up by Chelsea, de Ligt was priced out of a move by Man United’s bid and Gvardiol signed up a new contract with Leipzig. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT!!
We were forced to look for stop gap solutions and decided to pick Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus and Boubacar Kamara from Bayern.

Jordi Alba decided to look for a new challenge and we brought in Raphael Guerreiro from Bayern.

Hugo Lloris joined from Tottenham as a backup keeper after Neto was released at the end of his contract.

We tried to go after Brazilian wonderkid Matheus Franca but he opted to join Leeds United instead so we got Isak Johannesson from Kobenhavn and Luka Romero from Lazio (who was loaned back till end of season) to continue building our wonderkid generation for future.

Summary of incomings and outgoings

A neat pre-season finished with 3 friendlies in Netherlands and have made an unbeaten start to La Liga.

We have been handed a straightforward group in Champions Legue with Inter as the biggest challenge.

All set for the season, see you after January window!!
2024 January Mid-Season Update:
The first half of the season has been an absolute breeze. We are unbeaten at the top of the league with 56 points from 22 games, 10 ahead of second placed rivals Real Madrid. We have a ridiculously good defensive record of conceding just 6 goals so far. To put in context the next best is 17 goals.

We qualified top of the group in UCL ahead of Inter and will now be facing RB Leipzig in the First Knockout Round

We got out first trophy of the season with a win over Real Madrid in Supercopa.

Here is how the team has been performing. Lewandowski and ter Stegen have been absolute beasts at opposite ends of the pitch and Dembele has been lighting the stage up with both goals and assists.

No incoming transfers in January as I’m quite happy with my group of players. There were bids for Gavi and Depay from Man City but I resisted any urge to sell. I might let Depay leave in the summer if I get a good bid.
Hope we get that elusive Champions League trophy when I provide the end of season update next!!

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