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Aston Villa F.C. - Looking for direction

Started on 22 October 2022 by ippe
Latest Reply on 12 April 2023 by Binky
ippe's avatar Group ippe
1 yearEdited
One of my favourite things on Football Manager is to manage teams which are in need of a new voice in real life and mix FM lore with real life footballing events in general. I also like my first save of new FM to be in Premier League.

I had few different teams to choose from but in the end it was an easy choice to choose Aston Villa for my first club in this year's FM.

Aston Villa F.C. History from 2019/20 onwards – Why they need me to take over?

After achieving promotion to Premier League for the 2019/20 season, Aston Villa have finished 17th, 11th and 14th in the league.

Some of the key events since 19/20 season include selling the academy graduate Jack Grealish to Manchester City for £100 million and firing an Aston Villa fan Dean Smith from his managerial position and replacing him with Steven Gerrard.

I feel the club has made some okay-ish decisions since returning to the Premier League, but despite some great ambitions and investment, the club has found its place in the lower mid-table for two seasons in a row and their 2022/23 season in real life hasn’t started much better.

The recruitment has been fairly decent but the problem in especially Gerrard’s era has been the manager’s constant tinkering with his tactics, formations and player selections. Gerrard has recently paid an ultimate price for this and was sacked few days ago.

Aston Villa F.C. season 2022/23 - the Starting Point

After taking a look at the available players, I can understand why Gerrard struggled with his tactics and team selections. The squad has some talented players but they don’t quite seem to fit together.

The squad doesn’t seem that balanced for me. There are too many midfielders, not enough wide players and while some of the players are good technically, others seem to be better suited for counter attacking style.

I will make some signings but largely I want to have the same squad that Aston Villa started the season with in real life.

Goals for the 2022/23 Season and for the series!

I like to have two goals on my mind for every season in Football Manager. One more optimistic and sort of “it would be nice to achieve this goal” and one more realistic sort of minimum goal, as well.

The end goal for this save game is to win Premier League, win major European trophy and establish Aston Villa as one of the top clubs in England and in Europe.

The optimistic goal for the 2022/23 season is to push for the European qualification (top 8)

The more realistic goal for the season is to finish around top 10 and form a solid foundation for next season, where the goal is to qualify for European tournament.

On my next post I'll discuss about the tactics and summer transfers. Thanks for reading, be back soon!
Aston Villa F.C. Season 2022/23 - Tactics, transfers and first month performance


Initially I wanted to make little changes but I still ended up buying four players, though one of them will only join as after the season.

My first signing was 18-year-old Andreas Schjelderup, who our scouts really liked. And to be fair he looks quite insane for player of his age, I'll insert his profile on the spoiler below. He is an extremely technical and creative player who needs to develope his physical attributes. I initially planned to loan him back to Nordsjælland for a season, but I wanted to give him ago from the get go.

Our scouts really liked Watford's João Pedro, so I decided to buy him for £33 million. He is natural at striker, ACM and on both wings so he is versatile player whose best attributes are related to teamwork and technicality.

The 3rd acquisition was Nicola Zalewski from AS Roma for £10,5 million. Like João Pedro, he is also very versatile player and he can play every position on the wings. I will aim to use him at right side either as a winger or as an inverted wing back.

Iäll sell Philippe Coutinho as fast as I can, so I decided to buy him a replacement already. The honour landed on Croatian Luka Sučić, who will be joining Aston Villa on the following summer for £25 million.

Two major sales were Marvelous Nakamba and Frédéric Guilbert and both of them were sold to Brighton for combined amount of £29,5 million.

Player profiles of all the new signings below:


Few weeks ago I saw nice twitter thread by the user TalkingTactics, who analysed Pep Guardiola's tactics at Manchester City, especially when they have the posession of the ball.

You can see the thread from this link:

Basically Guardiola tries to create numerical advantages on the pitch and while they often deploy a 4-3-3 system, the system has few variations what it comes to player roles.

The two variotations I try to use on FM are 3-1-6 and 2-2-6. You can find few pictures on the spoiler below.

The roles of a striker. defensive midfielder and centre backs are the same on both systems, but the roles of wing backs, central midfielders and wingers vary.

The variations on FM looks like this.

On the second version wing backs are inverted and will act more like traditional midfielders. The width of the play comes from the wide players who are instructed to play as wingers.

On the first version one wing back is pushed forward and the other offers extra cover on midfield. One of the wide players is inside forward and the other offers width as a winger. Player instructions are same on both tactics.

Basically the idea is to switch between these two tactics based on what kind of formation the opponent will deploy.

The results of the first month

The season started very well with 1-0 home win against Totteham, who in fairness were missing Son and Richarlison due injuries.

We also managed to beat Brentford before we lost 1-2 against Liverpool at Anfield. We made few individual errors against better team, so I can take this kind of result and focus on other games.

The loss was followed by three wins agains Cheltenham at EFL Cup and against Brighton and Bournemouth in Premier League.

So after the month of August we are 3rd on the league! Tactics seem to work fine, although some tweaking is still needed for sure.

Aston Villa F.C. Season 2022/23 - Fixtures leading to World Cup break

We've enjoyed a great start for the season the main reason being that we've been able to win the games we were expected to win.

However, it was our very next game where we had the first disappointing result of the season as we only managed to draw Wolverhampton. They have hired former Celtic-man Ange Postecoglou as their manager and were one of the best attacking teams in the league at the time of our meeting. We created the better chances xG being 2.26 vs. 1.31 for the good guys, but it was only Coutinho's 90+4 minute equaliser which earned us even the one point from this game.

I made some changes after this game, the main one being promoting Danny Ings to starting position for the following fixtures. Ings seized the opportunity as he scored 5 goals in our next 5 games. Coutinho also earned a spot in the starting XI due to his heroics against Wolves and he scored an opener on our next league game against Nottingham Forrest but his form eventually dried down and he has since been a cup player or late substitution.

September ended with two high scoring wins but disapointingly October started with back to back losses against Manchester City and West Ham. We were clearly the 2nd best against City but perhaps these are not the games we should be winning anyway, so I wasn't too angry about the loss.

We managed to return to our winning ways after the loss against West Ham with a narrow but well deserved win against Fulham. After the Fulham game we received some bad news as our in form striker Danny Ings hurt his back on the training and would only return after the World Cup.

I gave his spot to Ollie Watkins who had been relegated to bench after poor finishing in his previous games, but he stepped up when needed and managed to score five goals in our next three games.

Our October ended on a positive note as we won three out of our 4 last games and only drew against Manchester United thanks to Fernandes' wonder strike volley late in the game.

November was our worst month so far, as we lost both of our league games against. Leicester's counter attacking style worked well against us and we didn't manage to create much threat on our own.

Our loss against Arsenal was pretty much the first game of our season in which the result didn't reflect the events of the game as we were the better side for much of the 90 minutes but the visitors managed to escape with a narrow win.

Thoughts about tactics

Our tactics have been working quite well, as we've had around 60% posession in most of our games and have 1.71 xG for per game and xGa of 1.12 per game.

If I have one complaint it is, that I'd like to see more offence from our wide players as strikers and Jacob Ramsey have been our only regular scorers.

Player-wise John McGinn has been our biggest disappointment and he isn't suited for our playstyle at all. He is valued £29-£35 million, so I think I may cash in during the January transfer window if possible and see if I can recall Susic from his loan to his place.

Speaking of cash, Matty Cash has been other, surprisingly poor performer and I might need to bring in new right back as well.

You can see the player statistic for the 1st half of the season here:

Sensationally, we are on the 3rd place entering the World Cup break, but as you can (hopefully) see, 3rd and 7th positions are only seperated by 3 points, so anything can happen. I need to stay realistic but at the same time it would be disappointing to drop completely out of the European spots come end of the season.

A great start to both the story and the season! I wonder if Coutinho is starting to force his way back into your plans after his goals against Wolves and Forest, or is he still somebody you are looking to sell ASAP still?
2022-10-24 08:44#289752 TheLFCFan : A great start to both the story and the season! I wonder if Coutinho is starting to force his way back into your plans after his goals against Wolves and Forest, or is he still somebody you are looking to sell ASAP still?

Thanks for the response, fellow LFC fan!

You can see Coutinho's profile below and to be fair he is quite good. Physical attributes have never been his strength but technically he is still an amazing player. He is on high wages by our standards and he has very high market value, though it remains to be seen how much other teams will actually pay for him.

I'll probably still try to sell him, but whether I actually sell him on January or not depends on the offers I receive.

We have palyed quite a few games since the last update, so let's take a look of how the season has progressed.

We returned from the World Cup break (Argentina won Croatia on the final) with a 4-1 win over Charlton on the EFL Cup. However, our EFL cup run ended on next round against Blackpool on penalties. I would have liked to progress further on the cup but otherwise our season is going well, so to be fair I'm not too bothered about this.

Since the WC break we have played 6 games in the Premier League and have won 4 and drew 2 games, so our league form is still strong. 0-3 victory at Stamford Bridge was one of our better results but in reality it was very even match and we could have easily lost that game, too.

As you can see from the picture below, we have had quite a few different goalscorers, which is quite unusual for my teams. I think it can only be a good thing we have many players cabable of scoring goals, although none of them seems to do it consistenly, which might be an issue.

Our finances are somewhat troubling, so I didn't make any signings on January. I tried to sell Coutinho and McGinn but unsurprisingly there weren't many suitors for them. I can sell few players on summer and once the PL TV money check arrives, we should have no problem splashing some cash on the next transfer window.

There is 3 and a half months worth of football to play for, so we'll see whether we can qualify for Europe on season 1 or not, but so far things look promising and I'm cautiously optimistic about our chances.

I'll be back with a season 1 review on few days, so stay tuned to find out how to season ended!

Thanks for reading and all the best!
Aston Villa F.C. Season 2022/23 - End of Season review

P16, W3, D3, L10...

That's not my Wifi password but our PL record since the 3-0 win against West Ham at the beginning of February.

So, I guess it is time to share the good news, we still qualified to Europa League!

I don't know what happened and how to explain it. I've played FM since FM10 and consider myself quite decent manager but I've never had anything like this happening to my teams.

Our tactics worked to perfection on the 1st half of the season and then on the 2nd half it just... stopped... It seemed like out guys couldn't put the ball in the empty net and forgot how to pass the ball on our own end.

At the end of the day we still finished 7th on the league, which was my optimistic goal for the season, so I should be happy but I think the 2nd half collapse taught me a heck of a lot about this team and... let's just say there will be few nice houses on sale at Birmingham area on the following summer.

You can see the player stats on PL on the spoiler below. Bailey, Joao Pedro and Coutinho did well, tfew players like Zalewski, Martinez and Ings did okay and then few guys were shambolic. Also, 15 bookings for Digne, what the heck...

As mentioned, there will be changes on the next summer and I wouldn't be surprised if we have sold players for closer to £150m when the next season starts.

Ironically it was the high turnover of players and personnel which saved my buttocks one game before the season ended, as the board wanted to sack my guts. Onwards and upwards!

I'm not 100% sure on which players I will go for, but Brighton got relegated and I wouldn't mind making some offers on 1-2 of their guys.
Aston Villa Summer of 2023 - Winds of change

I calmed down a little after the woeful ending of my first season with Aston Villa, but I promised big changes and big changes I will deliver.

The season hasn't started yet but I think I'm finished with my transfer dealings, so I'll do a transfer recap now. I signed quite a few players, so I'll insert the player profiles on spoilers by position.

These 9 players set us back for total of £176,75M, but I don't think that's too bad. We signed plenty of young players who will help us to get to the next level.

As I mentioned on my last post, Brighton got relegated and it was no-brainer to sign Moisés Caicedo, who isn't only one of the best young defensive midfielders in the game, but I could argue he is one of the best young players in general. I'm very excited to coach Caicedo and see where I can take him. I also bought Robert Sanchez from Brighton for £4,5M, which I think is a big bargain, although I feel FM did him dirty with some attributes and he is actually better in real life.

I identified defence as a big development area and I ended up buying three new centre backs. Our starting Central Defenders will be Evan N'Dicka and Tanguy Nianzou. I think both of them represent an amazing value for money and I'm glad to have them onboard. Interestingly enough, Bayern also had their bid accepted for N'Dicka but he still opted to join us, what a guy!

Our 3rd CD signing of the summer was 18 year old model citizen Leandro Morgalla from Schalke. I ended up selling Tyrone Mings and I wanted to sign somebody cheap to replace him, and since Schalke got relegated to 2. Bundesliga, Morgalla was available for cut-price and I took the offer.

I also signed new left back in Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell and new right back in Ajax' Devyne Rensch.

We made two more signings in CM Khephren Thuram and LW Mykhailo Mudryk. Thuram is a beast of a man with his physicals and despite his young age has played over 100 games in Ligue 1, so I feel he offers us a great option on midfield. I like tall players and with 192cm frame he will get plenty of game time during the season.

Mudryk was our last signing of the summer. I wanted to bring in somebody with real X-factor and I actually wanted to sign Mudryk before I even got FM23. The Ukrainian is an extremely skilled technical player with great attitude and speed and is also capable to both scoring and assisting goals. New fan favourite for sure!

Robert Sanchez' player profile:

Profiles of defensive signings:

Profiles of midfielder signings:

I tried to keep this short but ended up rambling on quite a bit again. I'll keep the story short regarding the sold players.

I sold 18 players for grand total of £233,5M, so we actually made almost £50M profit on transfers!

The sold players either annoyed me during our first season, weren't good enough, were on too high wages etc. I also sold plenty of academy graduates, who I though will never make the first team. Zalewski started crying about me playing him at wrong role, and I sold him for that. When you play 29 games in Premier League at an attacking role and score 1 goal, you don't get to make demands around here. He was signed for £9,5M and was sold for £20M more, so I took the profit and ran away.

I think I had an amazing summer and will be ready for new season, what do you lot think?
At first I have to make an embarassing confession. Despite what I said few posts ago, we didn't actually qualify for Europe... I got a note on FM saying the extra UEL spot will be given based on league position but when I checked the winners of the domestic cups, I could see that 8th placed Spurs had won the FA Cup and 10th placed West Ham had won the Conference League meaning they got the additional European spots and not us. Maybe I was too excited to push forward on my save and didn't notice this at first, so apologies for any inconvenience.

Come to think, my 1st season with Aston Villa was still a success of sort and in reality their fans & board alike would be absolutely pleased with 7th place finish for 2022/23 season.

Aston Villa F.C. Season 2023/24 - Woah, we're half way there, Woah, livin' on a prayer!

Anyway, onwards and upwards. We have played the first half of the 23/24 season, and let's investigate the first half in two parts.

The 1st quarter

We started the season well with two wins in our first 3 Premier League matches. I started the season with 4231 formation and thought we had finally found our way to play and would achieve success with it.

However, things quickly turned sour, as we didn't win any of our next 6 PL games and even got eliminated from EFL Cup against Championship side Sheffield United.

I felt we were playing okay football but felt that we had to do an awful lot to score and our opponents always seemed to score with ease.

So, soon enough, like my predecessor Steven Gerrard, I was struggling with formations and team selections. In situations like this I like to take a step back and think what I would change, if I inherited this situation from some other manager.

The 2nd quarter

I settled for 433 formation and crucially dropped our line of pressure and defensive line deeper. I had previously used the high lines by defeult with almost all of my FM saves since... well since when I can remember really and it just wasn't working this time. I also activated the Drop Off More instruction, as I found most of the goals scored agains us could be prevented this way.

Our pacey wingers are well suited for this style of play and the midfield three with 1 defensive, 1 hybrid and 1 more advanced option seems to offer nice balance for the team.

Slowly but surely the results started to improve as well. First we turned losses to draws and then draws to wins. In November we won 2/3 of our PL games with the only draw being against Chelsea at the Bridge.

December 2023 was the best month of our Aston Villa career as we won 5 out of the 6 games only drawing against Manchester United at Old Trafford. As a result I recieved my first manager on the month award in FM23!

We started the year 2024 with perhaps our most enjoyable victory yet as we beat Manchester City 2-1 at Villa Park. We managed to limit their scoring chances and were clinical enough ourselves to snatch 2-1 win against the most OP team in this year's FM.

Therefore after 19 gameweeks, we are 3rd in the Premier League with 10-6-3 record and 36 points. Some teams have played one game less than us, but nevertheless we should be pleased with the season so far. Ironically enough, this is a very similar position than what we had last season during this time and remains to been if we can keep this form up or will there be another 2nd half collapse.

You can see the player stats (PL) for the 1st half of the season below.

Aston Villa F.C. Season 2023/24 - I can see the finish line!

To keep my post shorter and easier to read, I decided to do report for third quarter of our 2nd season at Aston Villa.

January 2024 Transfer window

Let's start with the transfer news since we made a couple of deals in January. Once again I was little frustrated with our attacking options and decided to sign a new striker. I sent my scouts to discover all the corners of the World and they returned with suggestions to buy Brazilian Marcos Leonardo. The 20-year-old striker had scored 21 goals and assisted further 7 in his last season at Brazilian Serie A and he was available for £15 million, so I got him.

To make way for Leonardo, I decided to sell Ollie Watkins for £27,5M to Leeds United. You can see his profile below and you can get the idea why he is such a frustrating player. He has great physicals, some okay technicals but decisions of 11 and composure of 10 means he will always be an inconsistant finisher and in order for us to make the next step, he needed to be sold.

I made one more striker signing, although the player in question will only join us the next summer. Our Brazilian scouts recommended us to sign Endrick from Palmeiras and although I feel these Brazilian wonderkids are like cheat codes and often take the fun and realism out of the game, I decided to sign him for £12,5M nevertheless. Endrick has some development to do on his mentals but he is only 17 years old and has all the time and tools in his posession to become one of the best players in football, so I reckon its better to have him on our side than opponents'.

Profiles of bought/ sold strikers below:


We have played 11 games in PL since our last update and won 6 drawn 4 and lost 1 of them. We also got eliminated from FA Cup via 5th round loss against Tottenham.

I guess its fair to say our form took a small dip during this time period but its nothing too drastic I would say.

After 30 gameweeks we are 5th in the league 1 point behind Chelsea, who have also played 1 game less than us.

We will certainly give our all to qualify for the Champions League but at least we should qualify for Europa League this time around as 7th placed Manchester United are 10 points behind us.

This is good stuff, mate, I hope you keep this up! It would be great to see how you develop this Aston Villa side over a long period of time, if you can become a contender and how you'll manage your squad once you make it to the top. :)
loving it can't wait for next instalment
ippe's avatar Group ippe
1 yearEdited
Well thank you Harleygator and nash1981!

I mainly write this thing to maintain my English skills, but its nice to know that people are actually reading and some even liking it.

Aston Villa F.C. Season 2023/24 - last round drama!

We have eigth games to play and not much else to do, so let's get down to business.

Sadly the team wasn't as eager to continue as we failed to win our next two games drawing Norwich and losing to Tottenham. At this point I pretty much knew that our hopes of top 4 finish had dried down but we still need to get few results to secure the Europa League qualification.

I also realised that our 4-3-3 formation isn't attacking enough, so I switched to 4-2-3-1 with 2 DM's, Caicedo as DM (D), Thuram as Roaming Playmaker (S) and Schjelderup as AMC as either advanced playmaker or attacking midfielder.

The tactical tweak worked as we managed to win our next 4 games with a goal difference of 9-0. Chelsea and Newcastle are both decent teams, so I was happy with these results. With two games left to play we were fifth in the league but only two points behind Arsenal, who we would face in our next game, so by winning our remaining games we would certainly qualify for UCL.

We had a great game against Arsenal and managed to beat them 2-0 with goals coming from João Pedro and Leon Bailey. We limited them to very few chances and were the deserved winners of that match.

We entered the last game in 4th position but our opponents were the league leading Liverpool at Anfield, who themselves needed a win to ensure the league title. The game was one of the craziest I've seen with us and them taking turns on scoring goals. We started the fun at 50th minute but they responded with a goal around 10 minutes later. 1-1 draw was enough for us for few moments, as Arsenal was also drawing against Leicester but we soon received news they had scored.

I went to attacking mentality and soon enough Leon Bailey scored at the 86th minute. I celebrated like a mad man and was certain that we had qualified for the UCL. I switched to defensive mentality but it took just two minutes for Liverpool to equalise. It was an extremely stupid goal to concede as Thuram lost the ball inside of our penalty area by taking a poor touch and allowing the opponent to play an easy tap-in to back post. You can see the picture of this situation and the fixtures of the last round on the spoiler below.

ippe's avatar Group ippe
1 yearEdited
Aston Villa F.C. Season 2023/24 - End of the season review

Despite putting in a great fight, our season ended in 5th position. I lost hope for top 4 finish so many times, that becoming 5th wasn't a real disappointment after all, although the ending of the last game was a bitter pill to swallow.

We managed to get 20 points more than in season 1, so this season was clearly a massive step towards the right direction.

West Ham has already sold Declan Rice to Liverpool but I'll take a look at their and other relagated teams' squads, and see if we can get few players on cut price deals like we did with Brighton & Caicedo at the end of the last season.

You can see our player stats on the spoiler below.

I'm satisfied with the guys on green but Andreas Schjelderup being our worst performer is a real cause for concern. I need to take some responsibility as well, as I've used him at AMC and as a part of a middle 3 in multiple roles across multiple formations but despite having great attributes, I can't seem to find the best role for him. He is still just 19 years old, so he has time, but he needs to start delivering sooner rather than later.

I'll insert Schjelderup's profile below, so maybe you can tell me how you have used or would use him if he was on your team?

I'll return with a transfer update on few days time. I think we are in a situation in which the squad depth is fine and every new player should be a clear upgrade or at least bring something very specific for the team. I will surely go for quality over quantity on the transfer market.

We have received quite a nice transfer kit and will probably make 1 or 2 sales as well. I'm not 100% sure of what I'll be looking on the transfer market. Perhaps I'd like a dominant midfielder who can score few goals as well.

That's a desperately unlucky end to the season, but I think you can be happy that, realistically, you would be a top four side but for a single error from a defender in a high pressure situation. I would look at players in the summer who have some experience and calmer heads to deal with that.

As to your English, it is very good, so keep it up, eh. What's your native language?

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