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Promotion to the Premier League, it’s something I didn’t predict to happen so early on in my managerial career on Football Manager 2018. Nevertheless, it’s happened, and now I’m in the same division as the team I aspire to manage. However, will I become too attached?
I know very well that even if Jose was sacked by Man Utd now that I wouldn’t be considered for the role yet. Even though I’ve proven that I can win trophies, I need to prove that I can battle with the big boys in the top division. So, when the Nottingham Forest board offered me a new contract at the start of the 2021/2022 pre-season I gladly accepted and extended my stay at the club by another two years.
I’ve spoken a lot about my approach to pre-season. This season, I decided on a different approach. Usually, I build up the friendlies in terms of opposition strength. This season, with the team being promoted to the Premiership, I wanted to show the team the aspirations that I have by putting them up against teams that have been part of the UEFA Champions League. I have aspirations to manage in the Champions League, but this season, and another reason I selected the specific opposition, my Nottingham Forest team will participate in the UEFA Europa League so the level of football this season is going to have to improve.
Knowing that the level of football would have to improve this season, I knew that I would have to bring in better players. Nottingham Forest had their promotion to the Premier League confirmed early last season so that gave me the chance to plan. I checked the transfer market early and found a former FM wonderkid available for a low transfer figure. Former Dundee starlet, Ryan Gauld who joined Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon was listed for £2.2m. To bring an FM legend to my club is an honour, I wanted to hit the ground running with transfers and this was the type of transfer that I hoped would put a mark on the Premier League. After Gauld, there was a massive rebuild and most likely I went over the top with the number of players that I brought in. However, I feel that I have built with experience and talent. Only time will tell with regards to how the team will cope with this massive rebuild.
The competitive season opener, the first competitive test, the Community Shield, This season, the Community Sheild saw Premier League winners Chelsea and FA Cup winners Nottingham Forest face off at the home of football, Wembley.
Knowing that my team would be playing a far superior team in Chelsea, tactically I set up to play defensively but on the counter. The analytical image below shows the average positions of the two teams through the game. On the left, Chelsea’s attacking approach with a 4-2-3-1. Chelsea controlled most of the ball throughout the game with 58% possession. The red sections show where most of the ball in the team’s possession of the ball. Chelsea had the ball mostly in attacking areas and my team having 42% possession, the majority in defensive areas.
After 90mins it was still 0-0 and I made no tactical changes and aimed to frustrate the Chelsea team. After extra time, the score was still 0-0 and the game went to penalties where my team won 3-1 with Freddie Woodman being the saviour following three consecutive saves. The game stats show how much frustration Chelsea endured, 33 shots compared to 6 from Nottingham Forest. Nevertheless, a boring game, but a trophy in the bag at the start of the season.
So, now to look ahead to the UEFA Europa League. Which teams will Nottingham Forest be facing? We have been drawn in Group I alongside Geek side PAOK, Danish team FC Midtjylland and Portegues giants FC Porto. At this moment in time, I am confident but apprehensive about how far Nottingham Forest can go in the UEFA Europa League. Only time will tell.
2021/2022 Mid Season
At the start of any save, I don’t ever envisage managing a large number of games. However, I’m a very dedicated person and try to manage as many games as possible on Football Manager. We’re now in 2022 and I’ve managed a total of 300+ games in management. It’s been a journey thus far which started in Coventry which an ambition to try and guide them to greatness. That ended up with me being sacked after a poor run of form and a loss of a changing room. From Coventry, I went to semi-professional side Wealdstone and guided them to numerous trophies including the Vanarama National League South, Vanarama National League and the FA Trophy in the two season that changed my career. After guiding Wealdstone to the Football League, I was approached by Nottingham Forest who had just been promoted to the Championship from League One. The chance to manage just one league below the top tier was something I could not turn down. After one season, the team are in the Premier League the Sky Bet Championship and FA Cup in the trophy cabinet under my management.
Another aspect of management on the game that I like to improve upon is my own managerial ability. Over the years in this save I have taken numerous coaching courses and now in 2022 I am now one course away from holding the Continental Pro Licence.
Who’d ever envisage their team to be in the Sky Bet Championship one season and the next season be in the Premier League following promotion and in the UEFA Europa League after winning the FA Cup?
That’s what happened to my Nottingham Forest team this season. Midway through this season and the group stage has been completed and my team finished top with four wins, one draw and one loss equalling a total of 13 points, enough to qualify for the next round of the competition.
The team that gets promoted is usually the team that is predicted to get relegated. The magic number forty is the number that sticks in the back of every manager’s head when they get promoted to the Premier League. Generally, it is believed that forty points is enough for the team to avoid relegation.
Midway through the 2021/2022 season, the forty point mark has already been surpassed. Nottingham Forest is sitting in second place, level on points with Manchester United although, they have a game in hand. To be in and around the big boys of the Premier League is a dream, a dream which is a reality at the moment. However, the challenge of the packed winter schedule is yet to come. I should also note that I am yet to beat a team in the top four.
How far can the team go, will Nottingham Forest be playing in the UEFA Champions League next season? With plenty of fixtures to play, the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League, the EFL Cup, the FA Cup and fixtures against teams in the top four. It’s going to be a tough end to the season.