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Crystal Palace F.C. - Let's put the FUN back in football!

Started on 18 October 2023 by ippe
Latest Reply on 8 December 2023 by ippe
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ippe's avatar Group ippe
8 monthsEdited
As some of you might remember from my previous saves, I like my first playthrough of a new Football Manager game to be in the Premier League, taking over a team that is struggling or in need of a new direction.

This time around, I wanted the series to have some sort of a message as well. We live in a highly competitive society in which we need to perform at a high level each and every day, or we risk falling behind. I can understand this in a professional or academic setting, but competitiveness and the need to accomplish things have also infiltrated our personal lives. People compete for likes and mentions on social media, and even activities like FIFA or EA FC don’t seem as enjoyable anymore, as competitiveness is forced down your throat with gamers required to play 30 extremely toxic matches over the weekend or risk falling behind.

I believe Crystal Palace F.C. is a football club that has been a victim of an excessively competitive environment. At times, they have attempted to evolve, but these efforts have, so far, failed, leading them to become a risk-averse club. They have sacrificed enjoyment in order to maintain their status as a Premier League club. Their season goal is not a title or European qualification, but simply securing a position in the lower half of the league table. They are not playing for fun; they are performing to achieve their goal of avoiding relegation battle and continue the same cycle next season.

In my first playthrough on FM24, I attempt to change this culture and show that it is possible to achieve success and have fun in the process.

As a result, my sole objective for the series is to have fun.



Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2023/24

Crystal Palace has played 10 seasons in a row in the Premier League, consistently finishing between 10th and 15th position. During this period, they reached the FA Cup final once, losing 1-2 to Manchester United in 2016. Despite having a passionate fan base, the team has seldom provided a reason for excitement.

While the main and only goal for the series is to have fun, I plan to achieve this by implementing an attractive style of football and striving for European qualification in the first or second season.

Key Players

Joachim Andersen

The 6’4, 26-year-old Dane serves as the leader of the group. This ball-playing defender is a modern central defender who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and dominates opponents with his physical attributes. He provides us with more than just a solid foundation at the back.

Eberechi Eze

Simply put, he is our best player. The 24-year-old Englishman possesses the technical abilities of Olise but is a more well-rounded player. With relatively high attributes in finishing and long shots, we’ll need him to score some goals as well, while Olise leans more towards being a creator.

I'll return with tactics, transfers, and pre-season games in my next post.

I've been planning this series for a while and I'm very excited to play FM24. I was on the edge if to buy the game or not but the positional play stuff had me hooked and I believe it will allow creating some very interesting and fun tactics.

Thank you for reading and have fun!
All the best mate! I look forward to seeing how a player like Eze can develop in the new game given his great and consistent performances since his QPR days.
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ippe's avatar Group ippe
8 monthsEdited
Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2023/24 - Summer of 2023 and start of our reign at the Palace

Usually, I don't like to make many changes in my first season for the sake of realism, but the key to this series is to have fun, so I planned to make a few signings if possible.

Before we dive into the world of transfers, let's go over the tactics I planned to use.

Tactics

I think much of modern football tactics aim to create numerical advantages or overloads in specific areas. For the last few versions of FM, I've tried to create a system that would resemble a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 in defense, but transform into more of a 3-2-5 in attack. The new positional play features should allow me to implement this strategy more effectively in FM24 than was previously possible in the game.

In practice, the tactics look something like this:



The libero steps up to the midfield and forms a double pivot with the DM when we have possession. Inverted full-backs act like central defenders, and the remaining five players form a pattern that could perhaps be best described as a "W," with the two wide players and striker positioned at the highest points of the "W," while the two midfielders below them provide support and overload the back four of our opponents.

That's how I want it to work, anyway. The roles and formation are subject to change as I trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn't.

Transfers

When I took over, I noticed that our squad had several older players whose contracts were ending after the upcoming season. I had to make a choice to either extend their contracts or try to sell them for whatever I could get.

Upon assessing players like James Tomkins, Nathaniel Clyne, Jeffrey Schlupp, Joel Ward, and Jordan Ayew, it became clear that they wouldn't be part of the squad for the long term. Therefore, I decided to sell these players. While they didn't bring in huge sums of cash, some of them were on quite high wages, allowing us to make decent savings in their wages as well. I also sold Jairo Riedewald, Will Hughes, and J-P Mateta for a grand total of £51.5M.

All the mentioned players would have had some role at the club, so I needed to sign replacements, but I decided to prioritize quality over quantity and bought four players for a total of £92M.

I lacked players for some key roles in my tactic, and my aim was to fill those positions as best I could. For instance, I had plenty of midfielders, but they were of a similar mold in being solid defensive options but offered little in terms of attacking play and ball retention, which is what we want from our midfielders.

Our first signing of the summer, Joey Veerman, addresses this gap. With a passing rating of 17 and a vision rating of 16, he is a great passer, although his decision-making rating of 11 leaves some room for improvement. He possesses a great work ethic, mentality, and decent long-shot ability as well. I reckon he'll be a key player in transitions, enabling us to play the first pass to turn defense into attack. £17.5M seems like a fair price to pay for him.



As the theme of the series is to have fun, I decided we needed to add some fun factor to our game. For this purpose we signed Johan Bakayoko from PSV for £25.5M. At the age of 20, he already possesses great attributes in speed, dribbling, and technique, although some of his mental attributes could be a little better. He is the kind of player who keeps fans on the edges of their seats, so we'll allow him to make the necessary mistakes for him to grow into one of the best wingers in the game.



Our third signing of the summer was Pascal Struijk from the relegated Leeds United. He is a solid ball-playing defender, capable of starting the game either as a central or left defender, or even as a defensive midfielder. Considering he is already familiar with the English game, £23.5M was probably a fair price for him.



I wasn't particularly fond of our strikers and decided to sell J-P Mateta, so I needed to sign a new striker as well. I scouted a few options but eventually settled on Marcos Leonardo as he can also play as an AML. I don't usually like to use players I've managed in previous games, but I've only managed M. Leonardo once before, and if memory serves right, I only had him for one season, during which he was mainly a substitute. This time around, I plan to give him every opportunity to succeed, and with excellent numbers in finishing, composure, technique, and physical attributes, I believe he'll do just that.



This post has already become much longer than what I expected, so I'll return with an update when we have played around a quarter of our season.

Until then, thank you for reading and have fun!
Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2023/24 - Quarter of a season report

Tactics were set, and signings had been made, so it was time to kick off the season!

We were handed a relatively favorable start as we faced Brentford, Everton, Luton, West Ham, and Brighton in our first five PL games. As we sought to establish our name in the league and aim for a top-half finish, it was essential to secure victories in the matches we were expected to win and aim for a few surprise results when possible.

We managed to win four out of our first five games, drawing on the lone occasion we didn't secure all three points. To be honest, our play wasn't exceptional, but with major changes in the club and the team's playing style, some growing pains were expected. Late goals from Rak-Sakyi against Everton and Marc Guehi against Brighton meant that we turned two tight games in our favor, leaving me very pleased with our start. West Ham and Brighton are formidable teams competing for similar league positions to ourselves, so wins over them were especially pleasing.

We currently find ourselves in the midst of a challenging run of fixtures, having already faced Newcastle, Tottenham, and Liverpool in our last four games and with upcoming matches against Manchester United, Aston Villa, Arsenal, and Manchester City in our next four.

As expected, we've encountered difficulties against the stronger teams in our division. While we harbor hopes of securing European qualification, these matches aren't necessarily the ones we are expected to win. Despite this, we've been competitive in these games and with a bit of luck, could have secured one or two points from our efforts..



I felt our tactics were a little too passive, so I urged our players to step up little more when trying to win back posession. Additionally, I shifted the AM to CM, and we are currently playing with a 4-3-3 formation.

After approximately nine rounds have been played, we find ourselves in 8th position in the Premier League. With matches against top teams on the horizon, I'm hopeful that we can maintain our position within the top 10 until our schedule eventually eases up a bit.



At this stage I'm cautiously optimistic that we may qualify for Europe but lets see how our game developes.

We have also faced some issues on the injurt front and considering Olise has been injured for the whole season, we are yet to play our strongest possible team. Rak-Sakyi has been a great back up for him, but to be fair Rak-Sakyi is more of a Championship level player compared to Olise.



Until next time, thank you for reading and have fun!
Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2023/24 - Halfway season report

We have faced each team in the league once, so it's time to look at how our first 19 PL games went and what we can expect from the remaining 19 games.

Jesurun Rak-Sakyi heard my critiques from the last post as he responded with three assists in our very next game against Manchester United. Earning a victory over Manchester United was a massive boost for our European hopes and offered us a morale lift ahead of other challenging fixtures.



In our next game against the high-flying Aston Villa side, we managed to nullify Unai Emery's highly effective 4-2-4 tactics and turned the even game in our favor. However, we lost our following two games against Arsenal and Manchester City. The loss against City was our biggest of the season so far, highlighting the difference in class between the two sides.

In the following games, we secured great results with late goals, but I also realized that this has become a recurring theme in the series. We have achieved favorable outcomes with the help of late goals that have at times, gone against the flow of the game. It's unlikely that we can sustain this trend for the long run, so I had to adjust my tactics once again.



The xG table confirmed my initial observations as, according to the all-mighty statline, we have earned 8 points more from our games than was expected based on the xG. This snapshot is taken after 19 games, and the disparity was even clearer after around 12-13 matches.



We are now aiming to shift to a 2-3-5 formation instead of the previous 3-2-5. I found that the inverted full-backs and, more crucially, the Libero role didn't work as effectively as I had hoped with the players at my disposal. The players aren't perfectly suited for this style either, and although players like Marc Guehi are very versatile, I feel a bit guilty for deploying him at left, right, and central defender, as well as in multiple different roles accross the season.



Anyway, after 19 games we are 6th in the league, which is more than a pleasing result.



There are a few doubts in my mind, such as our reliance on slightly fortuitous results and the interest from clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool, ManU, Spurs, and Real Madrid in our players like Guehi and Andersen. However, we start the second half of the season from a strong position.

We are 6th in the league and have scored the 8th most goals, offering the Crystal Palace fans some moments of joy and excitement they haven't experienced before, at least not to this extent.

Missing out on a Europa League position would be disappointing at this stage, but we will reassess our situation after the next 9 matches.

Until then, thank you for reading and have fun!
Ticking over quite nicely. Some expected losses to City, Arsenal and Chelsea but getting consistent points against teams I'd fancy you to get past. Well in so far!
Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2023/24 Q3 report

We have played quite a few games since the last update, so let's see how the season has progressed.

I didn't plan to make many transfers in the January transfer window, but we made a two signings as youngsters Agustin Clay and Samed Bazdar joined our ranks. We needed some extra bodies at right-back and striker positions, and the newcomers offer just that. The players joined us for a combined fee of just over £13m, so we didn't exactly break the bank by signing them.

I tried to sign copule of transfer listed players in AS Roma's Tammy Abraham and Arsenal's Fabio Viera, but Tammy didn't want to join us and Viera got taken off the transfer list after we bid for him, so oh well...




We managed to recoup that transfer fee by selling our backup goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to Saudi Arabia for £12m. I also signed a few loan players, but they are nothing special, so I won't talk about them too much.

Disaster struck three weeks after the transfer window closed as Dean Henderson got injured in a game against Chelsea and will miss almost rest of the season.

Thankfully, I had at least signed somebody to replace Johnstone, so we didn't have to rely on a youngster going forward, but the loanee is clearly inferior to Henderson.



I complained about not being good enough on the xG table and getting lucky results and now the tables have turned.

A trio of extremely frustrating games ocurred and instead of 9 points we only got 1. I guess this is regression to mean in a way. Ffs...



We are still 6th on the league, but the momentum isn't on our side whatsoever, so let's see how the season ends.

How about this for an FA Cup semi-final?



Goalkeeper injured, no back up GK at the bench :D

Pascal Struijk stepped up and we held the lead, so if we win the cup, we'll have a new cult hero at the club!
As a Leeds fan, I always love Pascal, reliable member ;)
Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2023/24 - End of the season report

Let's get straight into the business this time. With all still to play for in the League and the FA Cup, let's see how the season ended.

Our results in the PL continued to be a mixed bag as we managed to beat some of the easier opponents. Unfortunately, we didn't face many of these easier opponents in our remaining games and ended up losing four out of the last nine matches.



Sadly, these results weren't enough to secure a spot in the Europa League, as Chelsea managed to surpass us and claimed the final UEFA Europa League qualification spot.



We still had an ace up our sleeve, however, as we headed to the FA Cup final against an Aston Villa side that finished 3rd in the PL and had a decent shot at winning the title as well. We had split our season series with one win apiece, so an even game was to be expected on the final day as well.

We had a great start to the final as we took the lead through Eze and even managed to go ahead a second time via Edouard. However, in the end, defensive slip-ups took their toll, and we lost 3-4 to Aston Villa. Too many players, including key figures such as Guehi, Struijk, Doucoure, and Veerman, had off-days, and we just couldn't contain Emery's attacking 4-2-4 formation.





So, we finished 7th in the league and made it all the way to the FA Cup final. If my memory serves me right, we were predicted to finish 13th before the season began, and achieving a 7th position is the best-ever finish for Crystal Palace in the Premier League, so I should be happy. Moreover, we only have the 15th highest wage bill in the league. But, damn, we were so close to achieving greatness in our very first season.

Southampton won the EFL Cup from the Championship, so we didn't qualify for the Conference League either, which I reckon is a good thing for us.

You can see our player ratings below. The biggest disappointment was Marcos Leonardo, who showed promise but couldn't quite perform at the Premier League level. He needs time, but we need to sign a better striker.

On a positive note, Olise was our best player, and Dean Henderson had a strong season despite his injuries. I was a little skeptical if his relatively poor passing attributes would be enough for a Sweeper Keeper role, but he proved to be reliable player for us.

Rak-Sakyi had plenty of game time, thanks to Olise's early injury, and he took advantage of the opportunity. He will at least be a squad player for us in the next season.



The board has given me £50m and £150k per wages to spend on transfers, so expect some nice business over the summer.

There are plenty of interest towards our players that I don't consider essential for our plans, so we might bolster the transfer kit by some extra sales as well.
I had a sneaky suspicion that this might be the case but I didn't want to get ahead of myself, but we ended up qualifying to UEL after all!



Let's put the fun back in Football Manager, baby!
Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2024/25 - Summer 2024 transfers

It was a long summer and we made plenty of deals over it, so let's get straight into business. We qualified to the UEL after all, so we needed a little larger squad.

Let's go through our signings by position.

Our first signing of the summer was Manu Koné from Borussia Mönchengladbach. Koné is a player who is very skilled both physically and technically speaking. He is at good age as well, but offers us some experience from tougher games, too. A fee of £42,5M was a fair price for him.

We wanted to sign a player who is more of a playmaker as well. After scouting plenty of options I accidentally tumlbed on an Argentinian Juan Sforza. With atributes of 16 in first touch, passing, technique, decisions and vision he looks like an excellent playmaker and he is only 22-years-old, so he is likely to develope as well. I don't know him IRL but at FM he looks absolutely amazing and with a transfer fee of just £9m, I think he is a bargain.

Profiles of our midfield signings are on the spoiler below:


We needed to add some goals to our game and that's why I bought Elye Wahi from RC Lens. The fee of £56M wasn't cheap but he is just 22-years-old and should lead our forward line for years to come. Like Koné, he is also quite experienced player with over 100 games played at Ligue 1.

As we play on the UEL we need some options from the bench as well and having spent so much on Wahi, it was time to go bargain hunting on our next signing. Napoli had transfer listed Jesper Lindstrøm for just £2,6M which is totally crazy but we took advantage of that and brought the 24-year-old Dane to Palace. He is a player with great speed and dribbling skills and with such a low price you can't go wrong.

Profiles of our attacking signing are on the spoiler below:


Our defence went through a makeover as well, as we bought 4 new defenders. Spanish Mika Mármol was the first defender to join our ranks. He is a solid defensive option who is equally capable of playing both on the left and centrally. He had a buy-out-clause of £18,5M and we activated that.

We lacked options on the right flank of our defence and I wanted to find a long-term solution for the position. After scouting plenty of options and failing to buy Lutsharel Geertruida from Feyenoord I stumbled on Iván Fresneda. At £37,5M he wasn't cheap, but if he can be our right back for multiple year, the fee isn't too bad. Fresneda has great physicals and mentals, but some of his technical skills require further development.

I made some tactical tweaks and tried to play 5-2-2-1 system inspired by Bayer Leverkusen's excellent Xabi Alonso and we needed an option who could bomb forward like Jeremie Frimpong. Acquiring player like that wouldn't be cheap, so we had to part with £53M to bring Adrien Truffert to Crystal Palace. With high attributes in crossing and mentals, I think he'll be a great addition to our team.

To round up our defensive signings we bought Taylor Harwood-Bellis from Manchester City for mere £2,5M. I think we made another bargain buy in getting him in at such a low cost. At first he is likely to get minutes on the easier UEL games and on the domestic cups but we'll see how he developes.

Profiles of our defensive signing are on the spoiler below:


In conclusion we spent a whopping £224,5M on transfers, so I probably can't play "but we are the little guys" -card anymore.

But then again we sold players for £120M as well and if Club Atlético Nacional purchases Lerma permanently, we'll get closer to £50M for them. Considering that, our net spend of £54M would be quite reasonable taking into account that we qualified for the UEL for shoe string budget and our wages are only 16th highest on the league.

Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2024/25 - Q1 report - Start of our sophomore season

We have started our second season with Crystal Palace and our first campaing on the European soil as well

As mentioned on the last update, I have toyed around with Xabi Alonso inspired 5-2-2-1 tactic. I don't aim to re-create or emulate his tactics by any mean.

This tactic is still at its early stages and will be optimised during the season. But basically our main tactic is quite structured (=not fun?) and I wanted to create more fluid tactic as a 2nd option.

It sort of aims to create a 4-2-3-1 formation while in posession with LWB pushing up to a winger position. This tactic also aims to take advantage of the new positional play features with player rotations, but as mentioned, it definitely needs more work on my side.



Premier League

We were handed a difficult start for the season with the games against City, Arsenal, Man United and Aston Villa on our first 9 games. We have had a decent start for the season but our losses actually came against Everton and West Ham, who perhaps weren't the oppositions I was the most afraid of.



After 9 games we are 7th in the league, which is decent enough. I haven't set a target for the season, but I feel a successful season would be to make progress towards the top 5 (UCL finish) and qualify for the UEL through Premier League.



UEFA Europa League

Our European campaign has started well and to be fair that was expected as we'll face lesser European sides and we have Premier League level resources.

The goal for the UEL season could be to qualify for the knockout stage with ease and create some excitment later on the tournament.

Winning things is always nice as well.

ippe's avatar Group ippe
7 monthsEdited
Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2024/25 - Halfway season report

We have played 19 games on the PL, so its time to see how to season has progressed so far.

Premier League

We have played a match every 3-4 days for 3 months and I think the fixture congestion has, at least to an extent, gotten the better of us.

I think occasionally its too easy to score on us and we have to create an awful lot to get some goals ourselves. The game against Newcastle is a perfect example of this.



We were statistically better than Brighton and Brentford on our last two games as well and were unlucky not to get atleast 4 points off these games, yet alone none.



After 19 games we are 6th on the league, but teams around us have played a different number of games, so we could fall as low as 8th.



Europa League

We have played three games in the Europe since our last update and have won two of them drawing against AC Milan.



I'm not planning to make huge moves on the January transfer window, but both Andersen and Guehi only have 18 months left on their deals and they want away. If I can get a fee that I feel is way over the market value, I could sell them. It'll be difficult to replace them with equally good players, so I'm not necessarily pushing to sell them, but lets see what happens.



We are actually third on the xG table, so despite some frustrations from my side, there is no need for major changes.

ippe's avatar Group ippe
7 monthsEdited
Crystal Palace F.C. - Season 2024/25 - Q3 report - We hit the form and the motherload

Wheelin' and dealin'

On the previous update I mentioned that I wasn't necessarily pushing to sell our players but in January we received few offers we couldn't refuse.

Joachim Andersen was one of our better players and I even highlighted him on the opening post of the series, but he turns 29 in few months (in the game) and he has under 18 months left in his contract and as he doesn't want to sign a new contract with us, the decision to sell him makes itself. I decided to sell him, Al-Hilal offered £60M and Andersen "wanted to secure his family's future" so that was the end of his tenure at Crystal Palace. He played 53 PL games for me with an AVG rating of 6.93, so I guess its fair to say he was good but not great.

Andersen wasn't our only player who joined Al-Hilal for a massive fee, as out of the blue they offered £62M for Dean Henderson. I had started to like the player but I felt £62m was too great of a fee to turn down, so I sold him as well.

Jefferson Lerma returned from his loan from South America and didn't want to keep him around as he was constantly the worst performer in the training, so I decided to sell him to whoever put in the highest bid. UAE club Al-Ain offered £20M for him and that was good enough for me. Tyrick Mitchell had under 18 months left on his contract and as he had become our 3rd option at LB I decided to sell him as well. AC Milan offered £30M for him and although it was sad to sell a Home Grown by Club -player, the offer was too good to turn down.



In conclusion we sold players for over £170M in January and as we are fighting for the European qualification, there is no way I'd weaken my team, so let's see who we bought to replace the sold players.

I actually signed two players I had already made offers earlier in our journey with Palace. The first newcomer was Dutch defender Perr Schuurs from Torino for £40M. As you can see from the picture below, he is quite similar to Joachim Andersen, but he is three years younger.



The star signing of the January window was 21-year-old wonderkid Ousmane Diomande, who joined our team for a whopping £69M fee. I tried to sign him before, but he wasn't interested in joining our team back then. He is very young but already looks like an amazing player. He has excellent passing, mental and physical attributes and he'll hopefully be our key player for years to come. His agent demanded an £89M buy-out clause to his contract, and I must try to negotiate that away in the summer.



Finally we had to sign a replacement for departed Henderson in goal and I opted to go for Valencia's Giorgi Mamardashvili. The transfer set us back for closer to £50M but we sold Henderson for more, so it wasn't too bad. Standing at 199cm he dominates in the air and with a passing of 15 he is suitable for Sweeper-Keeper role as well.



We spent £160M for players in January, made a net profit of £10M and turned our squad younger and better, so that's an excellent transfer window in my book.

Premier League

We ended the last update on a back-to-back losses and I planned to turn that around immediately. I made a shift in tactics and dropped our 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1 formation and opted for the Xabi Alonso inspired 5-2-2-1 formation I mentioned before.

The formation is actually assymetric (which I've never done in my 10+ years with FM and it bothers me to a great extent) but it really works. Johan Bakayoko abosolutely dominates his wing and is often left unmarked as our opposition is focusing more on our AM's and forward.



We absolutely annihilated Aston Villa in our first game with this tactic and have won 7 out of our 10 PL games after the shift in tactics. Individual errors from Guehi cost us the game against Man City, Man United fluked a draw from us and Newcastle beat us 1-0 after an even game, so we haven't been outplayed once with this tactic.



As a result we are 5th in the league with 9 games left to play. Our schedule is a very mixed bag is we'll face Spurs (4th), Liverpool (1st), Southampton (19th), Wolves (17th) Chelsea (12th), Arsenal (8th), West Ham (6th), Everton (13th) and Leicester (18th) on our last 9 games.

Nevertheless, we are 6 points ahead of 6th placed West Ham with much better goal difference, so the target must be to hold on the 5th position and grab a spot for the next season's UCL. If we win the games we are supposed to win, I think we'll be very close to achieve just that.



Europa League

We won the League Phase and will face Rennes in our round of 16 match up.

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