Turning The Tide

R24Shirt1So, it’s time for the February update of the Aston Villa save. Last month was – to say the least – a bad month for our Villa side. The proposed Steve Tomlinson(?) takeover fell through, Randy Lerner wouldn’t give me anything to buy or even sign players (meaning I ended the month having signed no-one to help us ensure safety), Gabby Agbonlahor just wouldn’t take the hint and leave, and we plummeted from 12th to 16th by the 31st, losing to Man City and Arsenal in the league, before crashing out of the FA Cup in the 3rd round – perhaps a blessing in disguise – to city rivals West Bromwich Albion. We manage to stem the tide at the end of the month by drawing with a weakened – and managerless – Chelsea (they’ve since appointed David Moyes), but it was still a shocking month by all accounts. Let’s hope February is an improvement.

This month, we’d face Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Leicester City. However, first off it was Liverpool again, this time at Villa Park. *gulp*. Just what we need. Liverpool have sacked Jurgen Klopp since the last time we played them – the players citing a lack of confidence in him – and replaced him with Rudi Garcia. However, they’ve remained mid table, and aren’t in great form. However, firstly, I received this little gem of a message.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 14.24.47

Awwww, thanks Idrissa, you’re alright.

Clearly the players are behind me at least, even if the chairman won’t let me keep this shell of a once great football club in the Premier League. Mind, I haven’t actually received a contract offer yet, so hopefully it’s incoming fairly soon. Otherwise, I’ll look a bit silly. If it doesn’t Randy, expect incoming Benfica curses. Anyway, moving back to the important factors – how have the month’s results been?

The Winter of Our Discontent

R24Shirt1So, January is done and dusted and it’s time to update you once again on the Aston Villa save as we begin 2016 and the second half of the 2015/16 season. Last month, we continued to chop and change tactically, using a counter attacking diamond at the start of the month, before finally finding a 4-3-3 that seemed to work well and fit our – exceedingly average at best – players very well. This led us to end the month back in our favourite spot of 12th, after beating Sunderland and Watford, and drawing with Swansea, Watford and Southampton. An expected 1-0 defeat to Slaven Bilic’s West Ham was the only blip on what was otherwise a very positive month for the claret and blue.

Furthermore, I’d also had the pleasing – and relieving – news that a takeover bid had been made by ‘Steve Tomlinson’. Yes, the much awaited takeover was here. All the money that was about to roll into our club, allowing me to actually make proper signings, imagine that! Unfortunately, a transfer embargo had immediately been put in place, meaning that as January started, I was unable to sign players at all, even Bosmans. Oh, and our games in January? Man City, West Brom in the FA Cup, Arsenal and Chelsea. Oh dear. Colour me worried.

Back On Track?

R24Shirt1So, I’m making rapid progress through the months in this Aston Villa save. It’s now the end of December and the year 2015, so it’s time to update you all again on how things are going, and whether I’ve managed to stabilise the – admittedly wonky – claret and blue vessel. In the last update, we stumbled inconsistently through November, getting absolutely hammered 6-1 by Tottenham, beating West Brom 3-0 in the West Midlands Derby before ending the month with an extremely fortunate 2-2 draw with Everton. I’d also started to mess around tactically as a result of the 6-1 – perhaps the wrong thing to do, but I’m stuck with it now – in order to find a better alternative. The 4-1-4-1 works in certain circumstances, but I’m finding it very hot and hold. Like our form then.

December would see us go through 6 games against Sunderland, Swansea, West Ham, Watford, Southampton and Watford again. Several of those are big matches, particularly the ones with Sunderland – rooted to the bottom of the table – and Watford, themselves struggling in the relegation zone.

I’d also seen that the much awaited takeover appeared to be on its way, receiving messages that a bid was rumoured to be about to be tabled. Through the month of December, I then received this:

The November Blues

R24Shirt1So, it’s update time again with Aston Villa, and time to cover the month of November. Last month, we faced Stoke, Bournemouth, Norwich and Manchester United, beating Stoke 3-0 at their place before losing to Bourmemouth and drawing with Norwich and United. I was also beginning to analyse where I needed to invest in the January transfer window, and trying to figure out whether the issue was at right back (aka Leandro Bacuna) or centre back (aka any of them). We ended the month yet again in 12th place, and I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever do well enough – or indeed badly enough – to finish the month anywhere else.

November looked like a fairly quiet month on paper, with only Tottenham, West Brom – the West Midland derby – and Everton to play. However, I can say that it’s been anything but quiet, and has thrown my tactical plans into jeopardy, to the point where I’ve spent the majority of the month chopping and changing – something I would never advise you to do on Football Manager – in a desperate attempt to find something that works. Unfortunately, that search is ongoing.

Missed Opportunities

R24Shirt1Well, I’m making good progress in this Aston Villa save, and I’ve now reached the end of October, so it’s update time again. In the last update, you saw that we finished the month 12th -again – in the Premier League, and had happily gone out of the League Cup to Tottenham 1-0 in extra time. We’d had an up and down month in the league, beating Newcastle 3-0, before losing to Palace and bouncing back to salvage a draw against Leicester. However, we had also lost one of our best players to injury along the way in Jack Grealish. He would be out for 3 weeks with a twisted knee, and we would have to make do without him for the majority of October. This really left striker Jordan Ayew as the only player I really felt could win us a match. However, we did find that Ashley Westwood was the English – not Welsh – Xavi, playing so well in midfield that he’s retained his position even with the return of Veretout.

Our fixtures this month were Stoke (sitting 3rd in the league by kick off), Bournemouth, Norwich and Manchester United. Not an easy month, but for sure there were chances to pick up points, particularly against Bournemouth and Norwich.

The Ayew & Grealish Show

R24Shirt1Well, September is over in the Aston Villa save, so it’s update time again. In the last update we covered August, the anti-climactic end of the transfer window, and our start of the season that included Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. Easy. Then again, there aren’t many easy games for Aston Villa anyway, as the real life side showed this past season. I wouldn’t have been surprised had we come out of the month bottom of the table with nul points.

However, we actually came out of the month sitting 12th in the Premier League table, having drawn with City at the Etihad after Kompany got himself sent off – admittedly meaning we are as good as 10 City players – and beaten Liverpool 3-2 at Anfield, with Jordan Ayew tearing Skrtel and co. to shreds. Added to a very respectable 1-0 loss to Chelsea and a tactically important 2-0 loss to Arsenal that led me to move to a 4-1-4-1, and things were actually looking up for Villa. Next up, Newcastle, Palace, Spurs in the League Cup and Leicester. So, how did we do?

Kicking Off

R24Shirt1So, the 2015/16 season has officially started at Villa Park, and let’s hope the claret and blue can actually inspire some excitement or intrigue in their fans in this virtual version of last season. I’ve finished the month of August, so it’s now time to update you on how the month has gone, and how we’ve started the Premier League season. Villa started the real 15/16 season with one win in ten games. Hopefully we can better that.

It won’t be easy going though, as our first four fixtures of the league season are hardly ‘gimme’s’ to get us going. Manchester City away, Arsenal home, Chelsea away, and Liverpool away at Anfield. Honestly, I’d have been happy with any points at all from those fixtures. However, I knew that we really needed to try and get some points on the board early. The last thing we want is to be left behind in the relegation zone within the first few games. It was also time to test the counter attacking 4-4-2 against the kind of teams it was designed to work against, so I was a little unsure how we’d fare in the first month of the season. I also had FC Twente ‘interested’ in Agbonlahor and his £55k a week contract, but I wasn’t hopeful of much.

Last One, I Promise

R24Shirt1I’m sorry, I really am.

I’ll just say this quickly, and we’ll move on. The AC Milan save hasn’t stuck, and I’m not enjoying playing it. So, it’s been abandoned, but I’m back, back with a new save that I think is going to be a real challenge, and one that I think you’re really going to enjoy reading about. For a while I’ve been looking for a big challenge on FM16, something that I really feel is going to test me in terms of how I build a club. I wanted a team that was in real difficulty, with no money to buy players to get out of a hole. I wanted a project that I could build slowly, one that was similar to the situation David Moyes found himself in when he took over at Everton.

I also wanted the team to be English, because for some reason on FM16, I’ve garnered far more enjoyment out of playing in England than I ever have on Football Manager. I don’t know if it’s the increased familiarity because of my decreasing playing time nowadays, with inconveniences such as a career and a life, but England is now one of my favourite places to manage on FM, when it used to be a country I avoided like the plague.

So, I want a badly run club in dire need of transformation, and ripe for a long term project. I’d like there not to be a lot of money available (at least in the early going), and I’d like it to be English, ideally in the Premier League. 

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