Update - Season 1
I traded winning everything, every year (yawn), in my last save, for struggling with Newcastle in the EPL. And a struggle it was - I spent the first half of the season under the threat of being sacked. We eventually got some form going but it was far harder than I thought it would be.
The cause: As per normal, I shredded the team and got a bunch of young hopefuls that will be great in a year or two - but while they'd be good enough to cruise the SPL with Celtic, they weren't ready for the EPL.
Many did develop into good EPL players over the course of the season and we were much better in the second half, but in hindsight, I should have bought/kept some more experienced players.
I should also mention that I got a new phone midway through and the screenshots are a bit weird, with the rounded edges showing on the left hand end, but not the right hand end (they are rounded in real life). It also had some black space where the selfie camera is, but I trimmed that off. They aren't quite as clear as the old camera so I'll have to look into that.
Newcastle's squad is truly mediocre, so I sold as many of them as I could. I wanted to keep Saint-Maximin to see what he could do, but I had several promising youngsters for that position. Likewise, I was planning on keeping Shelvey, but we ended up with too many good young midfielders, so he went too. I even sold Andy Carroll when he mucked about at training.
I really only kept Lascelles, the Longstaffs, Dubravka, Yedlin, Matt Ritchie (although he's declining so I should have cashed in) and Almiron (a mistake, didn't fit the left winger role, didn't perform).
Coming in were a whole bunch of good youngsters, many of whom you will know: Fati, Tonali, Palacios, Moro, Ajer, McKenna, Nubel, Marin, Henry, Miranda, etc. Most of these will be top top class in a couple of seasons. I had a run at Havertz and was eyeing off Sancho and Bailey and others, but ultimately these players just cost a little too much and the youngsters I have will be just as good as them in a year or two.
The fans seem nervous about this approach but Mike Ashley loves me. What he doesn't know though is I'm not buying these players to cash in on later, I'm buying them so we can establish a truly world class team. What he doesn't know won't hurt him hey? The fans will have the last laugh in the end...
As I mentioned above, it was a tough season, with a horrible start, but we got a run on at the end.
For some reason the board's minimum target was European qualification and we were nowhere near it for most of the season. However we got closer towards the end of the season. With 3 games to go, we were 4 points behind Wolves in 7th:
We beat Chelsea 3-1 away against all the odds, then Norwich 3-0 at home, while Wolves lost 2-0 to Burnley, then drew 1-1 with Man City. That left us a point ahead with with a game to play:
If we could win away to Man Utd, we'd finish 7th. They were away to Leicester, which wouldn't be an easy game but it was in our hands! At half time we were 1-0 up (so were Wolves):
But they smashed us in the second half to win 3-1. 🙁
Wolves let a goal in to Leicester however, meaning that at the end of the game (and the season), things stood like this:
Yes! 7th on goal difference! FMM hasn't been this exciting for me for quite a while! Wait a minute... Do you notice something in the final table:
We've got the "7th" highlighted in blue, but we don't have one of those qualified for Europe badges... What the <beep> FMM? So all that for nothing? Or is it just because we have to play qualifiers over the summer or something? Hoping it's that!
With all this focus on the league, I forgot to mention we made the semi final of the League Cup where Chelsea beat us 2-1 over the two legs:
and we made the final of the FA Cup, where Liverpool beat us 1-0:
So near, yet so far... But we'll soon be winning these regularly without much thought, so I really enjoyed it. Took a lot more care with games and played much more slowly than I will be in a few seasons.
Things didn't get off to a good start - Koita wanted to leave as soon as he got here!
I bought in Marega as a back up striker, hoping another Malian would help him settle, but I guess that's a full game only thing. Then he got disruptive in training:
Basically, things weren't great:
However, he started to level up a little and gradually settled into the team.
We got in an experienced player, Pavoletti, to become his mentor and help improve his 'heading of the ball'. I thought about using Andy Carroll, but a) Koita was already relaxed and Carroll would have just made that worse and b) Carroll was only going to help him with Aggression, not Aerial.
I've gotten better at picking Aerial mentors - someone with very good Aerial, but not Aggression or Teamwork (or they will want to train people in that) - so I looked around and Pavoletti fit the bill. Sure enough, he was happy to help out. And sure enough Koita's Aerial value did improve a lot.
That's something that actually confused me a lot. I was expecting Aerial to be super hard to train, but he went up 7 points in 3 updates (then had 2 updates where it didn't improve). In case you missed it, we discussed it in General Discussion (you'll need to read down that page) and it seems the Aerial bug still exists in some form in the latest version.
Pavoletti also helped him with Decisions and Teamwork, but eventually started to decline as a player. Initially Koita was happy to keep going, but by May Koita had realised he was better than Pavoletti and they were no longer working well together:
You know the drill: you abandon the mentoring, the young guy hates the old guy, the old guy is oblivious to it but has to go for team harmony (want a bargain on an aging striker? Anyone? Call me!). Pavoletti did give Koita a nice parting gift:
One of my big worries with Koita was the Relaxed personality, but the break up with Pavoletti taught him how to be more Professional and now he is just Normal. So although it ended badly, I got everything I could possible hope for out of it.
Koita started off fairly as a a decent prospect, but someone far from ready to start in the EPL:
He had around 5 updates throughout the season, ending up looking like this:
Nice improvement! But I'm hoping there's a lot more to come - there should be to judge from the % increases after each game.
He had a 3 week injury early in the season and that was it:
Around the end of the season, there were several bids for Koita, always lead by Arsenal:
I offered him a new contract on the first one and then rejected the rest. He's happy enough to stay here for now, but I need to improve this team quickly before he is tempted away.
This graph sums up his season:
The first half was a struggle, with goals hard to come by (he only had 4 goals from his first 13 games for eg):
Then in February, something clicked (probably just he levelled up enough to cut it at EPL level) and the goals started to flow a bit more regularly. He certainly had goalless games after that, but always looked more likely to score.
He ended up scoring 27 goals in 39 games:
A slow start, but there's more to come.
27 / 1000
A Note To Those Seeking Success
I get asked a lot for my tactic. Hopefully after seeing this people will realise that either a) my tactic is not so good after all; or b) there's a lot more involved than a tactic.
This is a very slow start - or is it? If I'd been playing in Scotland, he probably would have scored 50 or 60. Unuvar scored 44 by comparison, but he was only 16. In FMM19, Hornby was 19 years old (like Koita) and scored 60.
If I look at my Newcastle careers, last year I had a player who was intimidated by the EPL and only scored 2 in his first season! Yes, 2. Then a couple of years ago, Pinamonti scored 25 from 38 games which is very similar to Koita.
So, this is just par for the course for me. My tactic is not that special, a lot of it comes down to the relevant strength of my player and my team to the league. In season one, my player and team are not strong enough for the EPL, but in a few seasons they will both be truly world class and the goals will flow.
So persist. Keep going, build your team, don't give up. There may be some people out there with super tactics, but you can still hit big numbers with an average tactic if you pick the right players and the right league and keep building. End rant (sorry)!
Nothing else to do but to keep levelling up the team and watch Koita grow into a goal scoring legend!