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Career il Mago reborn: the Herrera (5-3-2) challenge [Completed]


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‘Think quickly, act quickly, play quickly’ 

I'm a long time fan of the game dating back to the times of Championship manager and when smartphones looked like this. This is however my first public attempt at a Vibe challenge, so bear with me if it will take a few updates before I find my groove. I've long been a fan of Italian football and the tactical evolution of the game, so what better challenge to select than to follow in the footsteps of one of the most brilliant tactical minds the game has ever seen - Helenio Herrera.

You can read Danovic's excellent bit of background info here, but to sum it up, Herrera is known for popularizing the Italian catenaccio with its impenetrable three-man defence, marauding wingbacks and fast-paced attack. 

Herrera during his hay-days with Barcelona. Hopefully my virtual alter-ego will soon be finding himself in a similar situation. 

Rules and Goals:

  • Must play 5 at the back (any combination 5-3-2, 3-2-3-2 etc.)
  • Challenge takes place in (in order) France, Spain and Italy. Starting in a French Ligue 1 club not in Europe
  • Must win 1 title in France*, before moving to Spain and win at least 4 La Liga titles, 1 Spanish Super Cup and 2 Copa del Reys with two different sides. From Spain, we move on to Italy to win 3 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia, 2 Champions Leagues and 2 FIFA World Club Cups with two different clubs. 
  • **Must not use any of the 3 biggest clubs in each country (Spain: Barcelona, 2x Madrid, Italy: Inter, Juventus, Milan)
  • No cheating, editing or other nonsense of course

* Not included in original challenge but I figure, if I'm going to spend some time in France I might as well get some silver to show for it
** Not included either, but why not make it even harder on myself



I will update on a season-to-season basis, starting off with my selected starting team as well as a brief description of my tactical philosophy. The amount of time I am able to put into the game varies quite a bit but I will try to make sure that there isn't too much time between updates. If you have comments, suggestions or requests, just let me know and I will try to accommodate. Cheers!  

Edited by 1899
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Starting team and Transfers: 

As the rules state that I must choose a team not playing in Europe, Monaco, PSG, Nice, Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux were all off the map. After a little bit of research I was able to find my perfect starting place in a side which had just two domestic cup wins and zero European trophies to show from their first 115 years of existence. That team is Stade Rennais FC, or simply Rennes.  


With excellent facilities and a history of producing talents from its own academy such as Sylwain Wiltord, Ousmane Dembélé and Yoann Gourcuff it seemed like a good enough place to start. The current squad had a pretty good balance to it, with some nice-looking prospects to boot. It did however have one glaring weakness in that I had only three central defenders - two of them being decent at best, and the third being just 20 years old. Being the tactical mastermind that I am, I realized that it would be hard to survive a whole season with these three playing non-stop so into the transfer market I ventured.


Enter Englishman Curtis Nelson and Uruguayan Leandro Cabrera for a grand total of €3.5M, as well as Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero who I couldn't help myself from picking up as he was available on the cheap. I also got rid of a bunch of crappy players bringing my net spend down to minus €2M, and with that I was happy to kick off the season. 

FINALLY we have made it to the team tactics. To start things off, I will be utilizing a 3-2-2-2-1, with the ambition of later implementing a libero/sweeper as well, as that was one of Herrera's mainstays. Staying true to il Mago's philosophy I wanted a quick-paced attack with forwards cutting inside and wingbacks covering the entire flanks. Unfortunately, that only left two central midfielder manning the middle of the pitch but all that means is that they'll have more room to run shine.

The below screenshot shows my current set-up, as well as preferred starting XI. As you might see, I am about halfway into the season and will continue the tactical aspects as I summarize the season. One quite funny aspect of my starting XI is that it spans 10 nationalities, with Frenchmen Maouassa and André being the only compatriots. 


More to come in the upcoming days as I close out the season and finalize my write-up. 

Edited by 1899
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Season 1: 2017/2018 Stade Rennais F.C.

To be perfectly honest, my expectations going into the season was quite low as it was my first career with FMM18, and a 3/5 man defence hasn’t been the most successful tactics in the later iterations of the game. To top it off, we were going up against the mighty Qatar Paris Saint Germain.

I did however set the goal of bringing some silverware back to Bretagne and figured that one of the two French cups would probably be my best chance of getting there already in my first season. Those ambitions were temporarily dashed as we went out from the Mickey Mouse Cup (Coupe de la Ligue) on penalties in the semi-final, courtesy of PSG.

Thankfully, glory was just around the corner as the Coupe de France would bring us further success, after a nail biting 1-0 win against Marseille in the final.


Less nail biting was required in the league where we, after a somewhat slow start, stormed through the competition with only the occasional hiccup such as a 1-4 loss to a 10-man Lille that somehow outscored us 3-1 down one man (Balotelli – who else). Otherwise, the French league provided about as much resistance as the combined fashion sense of Cristiano Ronaldo and Drew Gooden. In fact, we secured the league with five games to go and could spend the remaining games bloodying our youngsters and providing some well-deserved playing time for our backups.


Unfortunately, I forgot to take a screenshot of the final table but the top-3 stayed the same, meaning that all of Lyon, Monaco and PSG would miss out on the Champions League. Or would they?

There were also some individual trophies being handed out, where attackers Mubele and Thomas (more on them below) was awarded for their fine seasons. I must confess that I am a bit confused over the French way of having both a "Best player" and a "Star" of the season (they do the same for Best/Star XI of the season). I also chuckled a bit when I noticed that in France, they don't have an award for Manager of the Year - instead opting for French MotY. 


Player of the Season
Right inside forward Firmino Mubelu was immense for us in both creating chances and finishing them off. Great player! 


Honorable mention: Brandon Thomas. The Spaniard with the English-sounding name and passport, started off as a substitute with rather mediocre attributes but exploded about a quarter into the season and ended up with 25 goals and 10+ assists to his name. 


What’s going on in the rest of the World?
Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated in Spain, Juventus and Lazio in Italy and Arsenal and Arsenal in England. PSG won the Champions League while Real Madrid and Liverpool brought home the remaining international trophies. Spain won the Word Championship, comfortably beating Argentina 3-0 in the final while Mexico was a surprise bronze medalist.

5RWQcdW.png 2aukrBm.png

Outlook for next season
Having already completed the first goal of this journey, and with a long and winding road ahead of me, my primary goal for next season is to find myself a suitable landing space in Spain. I also want to make sure that I leave Rennes in a good situation going forward, so the off-season will be spent in contract talks with key players and to strengthen the infrastructure around the team.

As of right now however, the only opening in Spain is at Vallecano, which doesn’t interest me at all due to its aging squad and general lack of defenders. Of course, Italy had some much more enticing options in Atalanta and Lazio (apparently winning the Italian Cup and Super Cup was not enough) but as Herrera’s journey went through Spain first, so would mine. 

In my next post, I will do a more in-depth look into my tactics. 

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‘He who plays for himself plays for the opposition. He who plays for the team, plays for himself.’ 

Let’s consider the tactical aspects of things, where I will also give you the one tactical setting which totally changed the dynamics of my 5-3-2 tactics. More on that later… As mentioned earlier, the basic formation is a 5-2-3 with attacking wingbacks and inside forwards. Below is summary of the different position groups, along with my primary starters. 

Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero
I’ve chosen to adopt a sweeper keeper to help break up some of the long ball counters deriving from my high pressure and back line. This does come with the occasional howler but in general it seems to be worth it. Besides, having an Argentinian in goal should net you a few hiccups – that’s just the rules of the game.

Central defense: Leandro Cabrera, Joris Gnagnon, Curtis Nelson
Having bolstered my back three with newcomers Cabrera and Nelson, together with homegrown prodigy Joris Gnagnon I had a solid wall of meat ahead of my own penalty box. However, none of these pieces of meat were much of a footballer in terms of fancy things such as passing (or receiving a pass for that matter). Despite this, I wanted one ball-playing defender as by matter of exclusion, Gnagnon became it and was positioned in the heart of the defence. However, judging by his average rating of 6.56, the young lad did not have a good season. I’m not sure if it was the BPD role coupled with his limited ability or the fact that he was shielded by his compatriots (whose averages were just fine) and thus kept less busy. I will experience with a reversed setup for next season, playing two BPD outside of a central CD.

Wingbacks: Faitout Maouassa, Hamany Traoré
Probably the most demanding position of this tactic as they are expected to cover the entire flanks, providing a consistent outlet out wide offensively and chasing the opposition wingers down when play turns the other way. Due to the demands of this position, we’ve had four guys alternating to keep fitness levels in check. The production hasn’t really been what I would have wanted, which I believe is due to three primary reasons 1) tactics doesn’t fully utilize the wingbacks, 2) limited offensive abilities (crossing, dribbling, passing) and 3) lack of aerial presence in the box. Reasons 2 and 3 will hopefully gradually solve themselves as the players improve but reason 1 is one that I’ll have to continue experimenting with. What the current tactics does well is that it pushes the opposition wingers so far down the field that it nullifies the threat of counter attacks down the flanks. Oh, and about that one setting, you HAVE to set team tactics to Attacking or Overload for wingbacks to bomb forward as even with contain, they tend to stand around uselessly in the middle of the pitch. 

Central midfielders: Sanjin Prcic, Benjamin André
If the wingbacks play the most demanding positions physically, the two central midfielders probably occupy the two most mentally challenging roles, often outnumbered but never outworked. Being a quick-strike team, we often lose the battle for possession and especially if the opposition plays a narrow game with 3 or even 4 central midfielders, these poor mids will see themselves chasing shadows for most of the game. BUT, it works. The CM does better than the DLP. I’ve been experimenting quite a bit with the different roles and can conclude that the APM will never work as he gets lost offensively and just further clutter up the opposition penalty area together with the three attackers. The BWM is OK, but tends to drift a bit too far from his original position in his pressing game, and give away possession a bit too easy. Hence, the B2B is really the only other viable alternative, and I’m still working on finding the best combination of the three roles and the respective qualities of my players.

Strikers: Ismaila Sarr, Firmin Mubele, Brandon Thomas
Finally, the attacking three or as I like to call them, my Anglo-Spanish-Congo-Senegalese Strike Force Of Doom and Eternal Glory™  (or “Cloggers” for short). They’ve been great with 58 goals and 32 assists between the three of them. They do tend to sometimes clog up the opposition penalty box, especially if our build-up play is too slow and we can’t utilize our wingbacks to draw the defence apart. I still hold them dearly though but might try out implementing an APM or even Winger in Season 2, although with my current guys INF makes the most sense.

Summary and team tactics: 




The perfect game (and a mini sneak-peak into Season 2): 
Who needs possession when you can just score, score and score? With six different scorers and a penalty miss to booth.  


Other successful - although not as extreme - games include these three, where possession is even, but the amount and quality of chances created greatly favor us. 

0AFhIQu.jpg a6wAX9u.jpg


Edited by 1899
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Feel free to let me know if you want any further screenshots or information into any particular area, or just feedback in general on what you'd like to know more/less about.

I'm having a lot of fun with this challenge but am also quite busy with work and life in general so I'm not exactly storming through the seasons. I've also had a bit of trouble getting the pictures to show properly so please let me know if you note any errors related to this. 

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‘All France and no Spain makes Jack a dull boy’ 

Season 2: 2018/2019 Stade Rennais F.C.

Let’s tackle the elephant in the room first. Despite positive results, occasionally stupendous football and some good squad and player development, I failed my main target of finding a good landing spot in Spain. That hunt will have to continue into season 3.

I didn’t see any reason to completely re-haul what had obviously worked so well for us in Season 1, but knew that I needed to add some depth and extra fire power up front in order to keep up with the demands of playing in Europe. That influx arrived in the form of Mexican winger Jesus Corona (€16M), Italian CM Andrea Bertolacci (Free) and young Argentinian striker Maxi Romero (€3.5M, giving us two Argentinian Romeros at different ends of the pitch). Unbeknownst to you, we also have Turkish midfielder Alper Potuk, who arrived already in the January transfer window. Potuk (€6M) is a versatile man who can play anywhere across the central and offensive midfield which makes him invaluable as a squad player. Defensively I figured we were fine so I didn’t do any more changes except letting another bunch of mediocre squad players leave and a few youngsters go out on loan. The January transfer window saw complaining wingback Danze replaced by Brazilian ditto Lucas. 

We went into the season as title defenders, with the Board settling for a Europa finish this season but me wanting a repeat. One of us would be correct, and it wasn’t the Board. We basically flew out of the gates and spent much of the autumn destroying our opposition (see examples above). We lost some momentum early doors in 2019, but after some minor tactical tweaks; changing the right IF to an AP and the DLP into a B2B and reducing tempo to Normal, we got things rolling again.

That form kept us going into March/April but from that moment on, the wins did not come as easy to us anymore. This coincided with some unfortunate injuries to key men Sarr and newcomers Alper Potuk and Jesus Corona and some extra rotation on my part as the League was all but sewn up so hopefully it won’t linger into next year.

Defense stood strong with just 22 goals conceded. PSG once again looked like they would miss out on the Champions League. 

Our domestic season was a success. We repeated as Ligue 1 champions, reached the final of the Mickey Mouse cup where unfortunately we were once again bested by PSG courtesy of two late goals from Cavani. The French Cup was even more of a success as we repeated our win from last year, beating our bogey-team Monaco (more to come in a future Tactics update) convincingly 4 goals to 1. 

 43QvsID.jpg grHZlii.jpg

Champions League
We also played a couple of games in Europe. The group stage saw us go up against Italian champions Juventus, Russian CSKA Moscow and Greek Olympiakos. Could have been a lot worse. We ended up second in the group behind the Italians and into the playoffs we ventured. We quickly dismantled RB Salzburg in the quarter finals. Next up where four hard-fought games against Dortmund and Arsenal, which consecutive come-from-behind victories after falling behind in the first leg.

With that, and almost before we knew it, there we were in the Champions League final, eye to eye with Spanish giants Real Madrid – and we did it without our three best attacking players. But as Voltaire said, “God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”. Unfortunately, we did neither but then again, I’ve never put much trust in these God characters anyway so we started off with our usual attacking football. 18 minutes later, we were down one goal as Benzema beat the offside trap and put the ball in the back of the net – ouch. 

We regrouped and the score was still 1-0 up until the 45th minute, when suddenly our 17-year-old academy player Nouvier went down in the box and the ref pointed at the penalty spot. Maxi Romero, two year senior to baby Nouvier, slotted it home confidently and it was all level going into halftime.

The second half turned out to be a proper struggle. We couldn’t keep possession and the Spaniards really gave us their all. Despite this, the Wall of Meat stood strong and with 90 minutes played it was all level and it looked like we were heading into overtime. And then the 92nd minute, a corner, a Raphael Varane header and we bid adieu to our European adventure.


Star of the Season
Left inside forward Ismaila Sarr. 19 goals, 12 assists, 8.0 avg rating. Having spent last season in the shadow of Mubele and Thomas, Sarr took center stage this season and was unplayable at times. Injury struggles towards the end of the season meant his appearance total ended with 39. He also claimed the awards for both "Star of the Season" and "Most promising Player". Unfortunately, Sarr’s coming-out party coincided with last season’s star Mubele’s regression as the Congolese forward managed just 5 goals and 4 assists from 45 games (6.86 Av R – ouch).

NmKqVER.png KL1Ml37.png

HM: Robin Nouvier. Came through our youth ranks at the beginning of the season and at the tender age of 16/17 he way outperformed expectations (and his in-game stats) and became a key cog in our offensive rotation with 10 goals and 5 assists from 32 appearances, many of them coming as a sub.

What’s going on in the rest of the World?
Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated in Spain, Juventus and Fiorentina in Italy and Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea sharing the honors in England. Real Madrid won the Champions League while PSG swept up everything else.

pZdRE1q.png Y1BYfIv.png


Edited by 1899
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As mentioned above, although we went through a highly successful season, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. I’ve realized that there are two formations in particular that gives us trouble, the defensive 4-1-4-1 and even worse a central 4-3-3 (three CM, three CF) which fortunately only Monaco seem to employ. The 4141 is more popular and although its park the bus mentality seldom challenges our defence, it’s often a real pain to break down. What I have found – from either falling behind early or going gung-ho in search of a winner – is that one way of combatting it is to switch one of the defenders into an AM instead. That does open things up to the extreme though and deploying it as a standard would also go against the rules of the 5-man defence so I’ll have to continue to play around and see what else I can come up with.

For Monaco’s 433, I have less of an idea as they’ve become somewhat of a bogey team for me (with one notable exception), giving me two of my four losses in the league. I’ll see if I’m going to continue experimenting with some more defensive tactics or if I just cross my fingers whenever we’re up against them and await my departure to Spain.

Another issue which is probably (hopefully) not specific to my career is that I seem to miss a crapload of penalties. I’m aware that my takers aren’t world beaters but this is even worse than Wayne Rooney/Steven Gerrard level as I’m probably bang on 50 % from around 25 penalties. We seldom give away penalties from open play but from the three penalty shoot-outs we’ve had, they’ve probably also scored around half of them.

Do you guys experience the same?

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Outlook for Season 3
Priority 1, 2 and 3: Getting to Spain. However, with no openings available and just one manager listed as Insecure, we'll see when that happens. 

In the meantime, I’ve improved our youth and training facilities and increased the stadium which is now a 40,000 seater. All staff are gold level, except the newly promoted Gourcuff who’s retained for sentimental reasons. We’ve also promoted some promising youth and brought in some extra quality in the transfer window. Looks like this Rennes squad is going to be a powerhouse by the time I am done with them.

We crush our earlier spending record by bringing in Sporting's blazing winger Gelson Martins, partly funded by the departure of capable but oft-injured Bertolacci. We also pick up two bargains from Newcastle in Lascelles and Mitrovic, where the former is a slight upgrade on the departing Mexer and the latter hopefully can become a valuable Plan B by adding some strength and aerial ability to our striker position. Damiao Santos and Sampaoli are both prospects for the future. As usual, we also rid ourselves of some dead meat and sent some younger prospects out on loan. 


Other things of note: 
Some good, and not so good news from the early season. 

Yay, hopefully no more central 4-3-3!

Make-belief Trophy #1 secured. 

Atletico, Dortmund, Ajax - ouch, I guess our luck ran out. Aubameyang especially ran us ragged in the semis last season. 

Edited by 1899
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Fascinating season. I was hoping someone would try out Herrera.

Had you thought of changing your poacher to a DLF? Should link up with your midfield better and also create more room for IFs to run into?

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10 hours ago, phila said:

Fascinating season. I was hoping someone would try out Herrera.

Had you thought of changing your poacher to a DLF? Should link up with your midfield better and also create more room for IFs to run into?

That was actually my initial thought as well and the first thing I tried, but it wasn't as effective as I had hoped. From my observations that just made his starting position a little bit less forward, but he would still make the same runs, which meant that he pretty much acted exactly like the IFs. 

But I am playing around with the attacking positions quite a bit, currently toying with having one of the IF:s as an out and out W and also trying out different roles for the Striker (AF, CF, DLF). Thinking about it, I might even try a false 9/trequartista and see if that can create some further space between the lines. Let me get back to you after some further testing. 

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Season 3: 2019/2020 Stade Rennais F.C.

First off, I’m still stuck in France. Second, it’s starting to feel a bit old. Third, some minor tweaks to the tactics turned out to be highly effective. This season, we did our own version of the Daft Punk song Technologic. You know the one with the robotic voice going:

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, Trash it, change it, mail - upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it, Snap it, work it, quick - erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it, Load it, check it, quick - rewrite it,

In our version, it went something like this...

Tweak it!
Away went the DLP, the Poacher and one of the Inside forwards. Enter another CM, a DLF and a Winger. Results = More space, more cohesion, more goals, more success.

Slay it!


Undefeated with 36 wins and +92 goal difference. The Ligue 1 could not offer much resistance to our foreign legion. 

Crush (sh)it!


Well, yeah. 

Cup it!


Another year, another French Cup after a close one in the final against 4-5-1 defensive Bordeaux. Another loss in the Coupe de la Ligue, this time in the Quarter finals to eventual runner-up Olympique Lyon.

Avenge it!


After last season’s heartbreak, we get our first European trophy after comfortably handling Tottenham in the final, with goals from Maxi Romero and new favorite player Gelson Martins. Getting to the final was challenging though, as we needed a come from behind victory against Man United and a decisive overtime goal away to Atletico Madrid. As a side note, Spurs took the North London rivalry to the next level by beating Arsenal 5-1 in the other semis. 

xf4EGfK.jpg SrsyB7q.jpg uJNucgx.jpg 

Award it!
Remember the €45M we paid for Gelson Martins. Turns out it was a pretty bad deal. For Sporting. Martins showed that he was made for the inside forward position, scoring 48 goals and 6 assists through 47 games with an 8.57 avg rating. Had I pushed it, those numbers could have been even higher as I often took Martins off early if we were up by a couple of scores. Martins was awarded Star of the Season and Best Player (but not Best Foreign Player).

UTJ0ndx.jpg sVD5ARw.png

HM: Ismaila Sarr and Jesus Corona took turns sharing the right-winger position, and keeping Martins fresh. They combined for 27 goals and 31 assists through 74 games. Sarr also repeated as Most Promising Player. To be honest, we had solid contributions from pretty much everywhere. 


Barcelona and Real Madrid still reign supreme in Spain with the two Milan clubs sharing the honors in Italy. Liverpool wins their first ever Premier League title, with Arsenal swooping up the cups. Real Madrid and Man City claims the remaining trophies. [I didn't take any screenshots of these, so you'll just have to believe me.]

Done – let’s leave it!


Finding a new job proved to be much harder than I would have thought, so I figured we might as well speed up the process by going on Holiday. It can’t get much better than this with Rennes so I figure, why not leave when you’re on top. The club is in good condition with key players tied up on long-term contracts, state of the art facilities, a good amount of extra coin available and a 50,000 seater. 

Holiday mode, here I come! 

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Outlook for next season
A venture into the unknown. Let’s see what the game brings us. Any club in Spain that isn’t Atletico, Real or Barcelona.

Four months later, having rejected offers from WBA, Bournemouth and OGC Nice, I have a job!


Bildresultat för valencia cf


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Challenge goals – Spain
Must win at least 4 La Liga titles, 1 Spanish Super Cup and 2 Copa del Reys with two different sides.

Having been quite fortunate with my first landing place, I believe that my quickest way of completing the challenge will be to try and win as much as possible with Valencia but also being open to jump clubs if another opportunity arises – granted I’ve already won something with Los Che of course.  

Current state of affairs
I entered at halfway through the season and was met by an aging rather poorly put-together squad but at least I had quite a lot of coin to improve my chances of turning things around.

We are still in the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) and at 6th place, 8 points back, in the league. We are also still in contention for the Europa League, having been relegated from the Champions League after a third-place finish in the Group Stage. In other words, all bets are still on despite the late start.

ZHte2TC.png rUmPI6c.png

Let’s start with the obvious. This squad is NOT built to play 5-2-3, with quite a few missing pieces from what I would like to see, starting with beefing up the three man defence. At CD, it’s only 30-year-old Gabriel that fits the description of what I would like to see in our Wall of Meat 2.0. The wingback position is also less than ideal, with our starting left wingback José Gaya picking up a 2-month injury in my first game and 32-year-old stop-gap solution Juanfran being our best option on the right side.


Central midfield is by far our strongest position, with three good options available, two of which had been brought in this season by the previous management. Up top, we have quantity in abundance but quality is lacking outside of Italian 29-year-old penalty-kick virtuoso striker Simone Zaza and 25-year-old AM RL/ST Spaniard Sandro, who are both currently nursing injuries. We also have a lot of AMCs, which the current formation doesn’t utilize so a thorough clean-out is in the cards, which will hopefully generate some cash to fund one or two star players as well as prospects for the future.

Into the market I went and found myself some pretty nice assets. Entering the team are:

  • Niklas Stark (GER), D C, 25 y/o, from Hertha €25M. Sturdy centerback that will hopefully grow into the leader of our defense. 
  • Domenico Berardi (ITA), AM RLC/ST, 26 y/o, from Sassuolo €24M. Versatile playmaker and scorer that hopefully will contribute with both goals and assists.
  • Carlos Ortega (ARG), ST, 19 y/o, from Penarol €5M. Bringing in a talented Argentine forward worked out nicely with Maxi Romero so hopefully Ortega will replicate that success.
  • Erik Durm (GER), WB RL, 28 y/o, from Shenhua €4.9M. Perfect backup as he can play both wingback positions. Will start at the left, but may be switched to the right side later on.
  • Some additional future prospects of various nationalities that my scouts found.

Players out: Some 35 players of various quality, many of them low-potential youth, for a total value of €51M.


As you can tell by the scroll bar, there were quite a few transfers in and out. The pending transfer of Rodrigo never happened as he couldn't get a work permit to play in England (something that has grown to be quite a nuisance...). I may give you a more in-depth look into the squad at the start of Season 5 when it is hopefully more in line with what I want.

First game in charge:


Playing host to middle of the pack Real Betis, we take a solid 2-0 win in my first game managing Valencia. Our play was less convincing but hopefully it’ll improve with time as we get players back from injury and the squad gels.

Edited by 1899
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Season 4: 2020/2021 Valencia CF

I did not get the easiest of starts in Valencia. Having won against Real Betis, we picked up a disappointing 0-0 draw away to Eibar and then we were put face to face with Real Madrid for the Copa del Rey quarter finals. A 1-1 draw at Bernabeu and a 2-0 win at home saw us advance to the semifinals, where we of course would have to battle Barcelona - the side that had just given me my first loss. Yeah, let’s just say that the schedule makers didn’t give me the warmest welcome.


In usual Vincere spirit, we didn’t care to much about the opposition, played our usual fast-paced game and as it turns out, we came out alright.


With the W’s piling up, we started our climb up the league table, but as leaders Real Madrid refused to drop any unnecessary points our attempt at overthrowing the merengues fell short by four points. We did manage to produce some impressive games though, especially when playing in our sexy mustard yellow away kit. 


uLOsZYB.jpg BO0CVOy.jpg

All good in the hood, right? Not really as apparently a number of players took offense of my continuous attempts at ridding the club of some dead-weight. I responded by releasing everyone the Board allowed me to release and will continue to offload anyone I can, especially since the B team doesn’t appear to play any games anyway.


Copa del Rey:
Having dispatched of both Real Madrid and Barcelona in the earlier rounds, the final saw us up against Celta Vigo in search of that first domestic trophy. Unfortunately, we came up just short once again, losing 0-1 as we couldn’t finish off our chances having fallen victim to an early Vigo goal.


Europa League:
Having failed to pick up any of the Spanish trophies, we turned to the Europa League for a last opportunity of silverware. We quickly disposed of some lesser foes in the early playoff rounds, outmaneuvered Liverpool in the quarter finals and in the semifinals, we did this to poor Roma (check the aggregate):


The Europa League final had us battle Italian giants Juventus, who employs the same nasty 4-3-3 tactic that Monaco used. Being the tactical genius that I am and knowing that old saying of how defense wins championships I thought I would counter this by reshuffling my team, playing a straight five-man defense, with three central midfielders and two strikers up top. That should slow things down, right?

As it turned out, it didn’t. Instead, the game got off to a blazing start, with five goals inside the first half. The old lady scored an early goal to grab the lead but two quick strikes from Zaza and Sandro reversed our fortunes. An equalizer by youngster Moise Kean was again reciprocated by a goal from Simone Zaza, the ex-Juventini man who also had a third goal disallowed.

So despite getting pretty much everything wrong, we were somehow ahead by one goal going into half-time. 19 minutes and a reckless challenge later into the second half, we were also one man up. That advantage gave us the opportunity to slow the game down and park the bus for real this time, successfully protecting our lead.

Y5rERHZ.jpg G9hEmN2.jpg

Star of the Season:
Italian winger Domenico Berardi takes the cake, with 13 goals and 17 assists in just 29 games, earning an 8.10 Av R. Berardi was immense for us, alternating as a right winger and left inside forward, he was always in the thick of things and created loads of opportunities for attacking compatriots Zaza and Sandro who combined for 55 goals and 21 assists.

HM: Oscar Melondo. The Catalonian deportee overcame FM’s unfair rating of central midfielders, managing a respectable 7.14 Av R, likely influenced by his offensive involvement where he chipped in with 3 goals and an impressive 14 assists.


What’s going on in the rest of the World?
Man Utd and Chelsea pick up the major trophies in England, while AC Milan and Napoli are victorious in Italy. In France, PSG overtake Rennes (BOOOOH!), winning both league and the French cup. Rennes does however win the Club Worlds and the European Super Cup (but the latter was with me in charge so it almost doesn’t count). Real Madrid won the Champions League.

oNqVADk.png DqMqoIm.png

Bring on the off-season! Next year we better get some of those challenge goals in the bag, and with some new signings in the bag, things are looking pretty dang promising... 

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Season 5: 2021/2022 Valencia CF

Season outlook
Last season proved that Herrera’s tactics should work in Spain as well. Despite missing a couple of key pieces, and having some untimely injuries, we won the Europa League, reached the final of the Cope del Rey and got within 4 points of League Winners Real Madrid.

This season, we should be able to fulfill at least one of the challenge goals by bringing home either the League or the Copa del Rey – hopefully both. We will also be competing in the Champions League, where Valencia are still waiting to win their first ever trophy, but domestic success takes precedence this year.

We’ve strengthened the squad by bringing in four free agents in Cameroonian goalkeeper André Onana from Ajax, Turkish defender Caglar Söyüncü from Real Betis, Danish wingback Riza Durmisi from Granada and Basque winger Iñaki Williams from Bilbao. I did have a moment of panic when our Board decided to void his contract due to a 3-week injury, meaning that he was sitting in the free transfer pool for 2 weeks before I was able to pick him up. Seems a bit daft that this would happen on a free transfer but fortunately I was able to get my player anyway, even if it meant practically doubling his salary…

In the dying hours of the transfer window, we were also able pick up AC Milan’s talented forward Patrick Cutrone for just €30M as he had grown tired of waiting for his chance at the Italian club. Cutrone will challenge countryman Zaza for the striker spot.

We sold a bunch of players, most of them backups. We were also able to somehow get a €63M offer, from Tottenham, for LWB José Gayà that was just way too good to pass up so he left as well, especially as we had solid coverage in Durmisi and Toni Lato already at the club.


Unfortunately, our youth academy produced exactly zero viable prospects this year so we had to look abroad to strengthen our youth ranks. A number of interesting prospects arrived, most of them South American plus this guy from the Ivory Coast. Remind you of someone? Hopefully he’ll be lees moody about trivial things such as birthday cakes and whatnot. 


As a little bonus, remember that talented Argentinian kid Carlos Ortega I purchased at the start of last season? Well this is him now:


Turns out he’s 1) Uruguayan rather than Argentinian and 2) had a pretty rough first season in Spain...



I'm a bit behind on the updates, but progress in-game is going fine as I've just started season 6. Will try to get you guys up to speed in the coming days. Thanks for all the views and comments and don't hesitate reaching out if you have any requests. Cheers!

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‘Class + Preparation + Athleticism + Intelligence = Championship’

Season 5: 2021/2022 Valencia CF

With the newcomers joining our ranks, we have a strong squad with pretty much two viable players in each position. Hence, we will rotate quite a bit in the cups and since FM doesn’t seem to care much about continuity, my idea is to play one side in the league and the other in the cups. We will go for glory in all competitions available, to try and get our first Spanish trophies in the bag.

Cake. Walk. Gutted that our only point loss came in the 37th round, in a game that looked like this: 

tIvHDRZ.jpg zq2d9kj.jpg

Oh well, doesn’t really matter now does it. On average, we scored almost 3 goals per game while conceding once every four games so I guess you can say that we had a successful campaign.

Copa del Rey:
Another trophy down. Real Madrid once again without a single shot on goal.


Our tactics really match up well with the stronger teams in general and with Real Madrid in particular but once again we had trouble breaking the deadlock. Thankfully Simone Zaza came through in the last minute of overtime.

Champions League:
Cake. Walk. Part II, as we did this to Dortmund in the final.  


Although to be honest, the earlier rounds were more challenging, with us advancing courtesy of the away goal rule in the quarter finals, and needing an overtime win against Man City in the semi-finals.

Star of the Season:
Italian striker Patrick Cutrone quickly found his feet as our primary striker in the League, scoring 38 goals with 9 assists from 43 games for a rather stingy 7.76 Av R.

HM: In a season like this, everyone else. Offensively we had six players with 10+ goals and assists coming in from right, left and center (mostly from Berardi though). Defensively I couldn't ask for much more either as we tighter than an [insert inappropriate joke here].


What’s going on in the rest of the World?
Valencia rules Spain, England continues being a mixed bag and Juventus goes back up top in Italy. Rennes manages to compete on all fronts in France, winning two trophies but once again misses out on the league, this time to Marseille. Real Madrid makes up for failing to qualify to the Champions League playoffs by winning the Euro Cup as well as the Club World Championship. 2022 is another World Cup year, with Spain once again victorious and Ivory Coast a surprise runner-up.

KDJ2uD0.jpg lpREi7C.jpg

Challenge status:

  • France: Done
  • Spain:  
    • La Liga: 1 out of 4
    • Copa del Rey: 1 out of 2
    • Spanish Super Cup: 0 out of 1
  • Italy: Not started 

One more season with Valencia and then I’ll start searching for Spanish club numero dos as I'd like to win at least one La Liga title with the second club as well. Realistically, with some luck in the job searches, I should be able to make it out of Spain somewhere around 2026 or 2027. 

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Season 6: 2022/2023 Valencia CF

The TL;DR version: Another hugely successful season, with a joyful reunion and three more pieces to this challenge puzzle in the bag.

For the slightly longer version, we’ll stay with a familiar structure so feel free to read on below.

With the squad pretty much already set, we didn’t need to do much in terms of transfers. We brought another body into the heart of our defense with 24-year old Frenchman Dayot Upamecano. I was also happily surprised by a couple of interesting looking prospects from our academy and with that, I felt satisfied going into the season.

And then, out of the blue I received a news flash in my inbox that a certain old buddy of ours was unhappy with his situation and had requested a transfer from his current club. A couple of days and a €60M transfer fee later, we welcomed this guy to the club:


It'll be interesting to see if he can overcome the IF nerf and continue his goal-scoring form from Rennes. 

Competition summary – Gold, glitter and fortunes:
We started off the competitive season with four(!) back-to-back games against Real Madrid which netted us one European Super Cup, one Spanish Super Cup and three points in the league.

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The league was never in question. An early draw also meant that our quest for the perfect season would have to be delayed and in the end, we finished with 34 wins to 4 draws – our second straight undefeated season.


Fortune continued to smile upon us in the cups as well, as we beat Barcelona to the Copa del Rey, Cruz Azul in the Club Worlds and finally Atletico in the Champions League final. This season was also my first experience coming up against an old club as we faced Rennes both in the group stages and quarter final of the Champions League. Hopefully, we’ll see more such encounters in the future - preferably at even later stages…

2JKpfGg.jpg SigRfjw.jpg

Forgot to screenshot the Club World, but it’s included in the Trophy winners at the bottom. I think we won the final three goals to nil.

Star of the Season:
For variety’s sake, I’m choosing to give the honor to homegrown talent Carlos Soler. Soler is pretty much the perfect CM at this point, able to both keep and win back possession and produce points off long-range efforts and exquisite passing. He ended up with 14 goals and 12 assists for 7.61 Av R.

HM: It’s hard to see past Italian striker Patrick Cutrone who once again lead our scoring with 46 goals and 10 assists from 44 games. As expected, Gelson Martins couldn’t replicate his scoring form from France but still contributed with a solid 17 goals and 14 assists from 46 games.


Then 16-year-old Saul Flor was promoted from my academy this year and somehow started the season with 20-odd games and some 15 goals to his stats and then spent much of the year rehabbing from a nasty 4-month injury. Hopefully he’ll stay injury free and continue to grow in seasons to come.

What’s going on in the rest of the World?
Valencia everywhere with 6 trophies, Chelsea running the show on English soil, Roma and Napoli battling it out in Italy and Rennes once again coming up short in France, this time to PSG. 

PY7lhMY.png lmWPWrk.png

Challenge status:

  • France: Done
  • Spain:  
    • La Liga: 2 out of 4
    • Copa del Rey: Done (2/2)
    • Spanish Super Cup: Done (1/1)
  • Italy: Not started 

Having now played three seasons with Valencia, I don’t think there is much more for me to accomplish here. I will spend the next transfer window making some finishing touches to the squad in order to give them the best possible odds of future success before moving on to my next destination. That also adds to the challenge, meaning I will have to make due with whatever roster I end up with (at least for half a season) at my new club.

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I won’t leave you hanging. I did what I had set out to do in the offseason and then resigned from Valencia, eagerly awaiting a good opportunity to continue our journey. Turns out, I didn’t have to wait long. As Roberto Mancini took over the reins in Valencia, a seat was left empty at his old club, situated some 600 kilometers to the southwest. A week later, the switcheroo was completed with yours truly heading for… 



Sevilla FC


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Season 7: 2023/2024 Sevilla FC

Current state of affairs:
Sevilla FC, the self-proclaimed El Grande de Andalucía, has just a single La Liga title to its name but five (real-life) wins each in the Copa del Rey and the Europa League at least adds some credibility to their name. Last season, they finished 6th
in the League with 57 points, a distant 49 points short of victors Valencia. The team report says that I have an aging squad of volatile players with limited talent and ability. I also have this cheeky young fella in the team who apparently only needed a few days to form an opinion of his new puppeteer. Not that he’s wrong or anything but still. You would think he’d keep those opinions to himself. 

 Expected playing time = Limited. Expected training load = Excessive. Career outlook = Bleak. 

In short, a major overhaul is needed, with our most alarming needs being a capable goalkeeper and striker. Currently, our only viable striker is 33-year-old Italian Benedetto who is on an expiring contract and unwilling to sign a new one while Rico in goal might be an acceptable backup but shouldn’t be relied on as starter. Those two positions will have to be remediated asap in the winter transfer window. I also need to bring in one or two centre backs to anchor the three-man defense, especially since our current #1 defender, Diego Gonzalez, is on an expiring contract that he is unwilling to extend (where have I written that before...). Oh well, scouting for players and shaping a squad has always been my favorite part of FM so it’ll be interesting to see it turns out. 

The squad’s main strength lies in midfield where we should be able to keep an okay rotation going as Correa, Pozo and Reynoso are decent creators in the attacking positions and Vada, Sabater and Barak can hold the forte in the middle of the pitch. To give you an idea of the overall abilities and strengths of my squad, here’s our Squad Depth and Suggested XI: 

U7TNFjx.jpg BxCoiOM.jpg

First game in charge: 


Championship?! Maybe not but at least we’re off to a good start. 


So what are your thoughts on this upcoming season? Will I be able to lift Sevilla and compete with powerhouses Barcelona, Madrid x2 and Valencia? How are we going to cope with the new 9.1 update (which is installed for this season)? What will Castagnet's development look like? So many things to consider...

Edited by 1899
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