Sunderland ‘Til I Die, or sacked, or bored, whichever comes first really.
Now if you are a football fan you would have watched the popular documentary on Netflix, which guides you through the highs and more often lows of Sunderland Football Club over the past three seasons.
I know that you Sunderland fans haven’t has the best of years but I’m going to bring back the glory days in the virtual world of Football Manager. I will be offering tips, tactics, transfers and all of the juicy stuff along the way.
Let me start the journey by telling you that I am the best candidate for the role. I took Woking from the Conference to the Champions League in six seasons, which obviously doesn’t go unnoticed, so yes, I did get a role in the England set up.
First things first, the squad. I am looking to bring in some new players and get rid of the deadwood over the course of the season. Big wages for average players has always been Sunderland’s downfall, so I will attempt to shift these in the transfer window.
With any save in the lower divisions, I will always look to bring in a ‘Senior Affiliate’ this would normally be a Premier League club with a lot of quality players that are looking for loan moves. The senior affiliate will usually allow you to take players on loan without having to contribute to their wages, which is massive for me because I don’t want to exceed my transfer budget.
The board came back with three options; Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham. As we all know Chelsea love to send their players on loan and they always have talent in abundance, so I went with the Blues.
Lewis Baker – Chelsea (Loan with option to buy, £2.5m)
Jonathan Bond – West Brom (Loan to buy, £1m future fee)
Dray Wright – St. Johnstone (£275,000)
Liam Gordon – St. Johnstone (£250,000)
Curtis Jones – Liverpool (Loan)
Ivan Carlo Poveda – Leeds (Loan)
Folarin Balogun – Arsenal (Loan)
Millen Baars – (Free Agent)
Tyler Hamilton (Free Agent)
Jon McLaughlin – Montreal Impact (£925,000)
Charlie Wyke – Southend United (£400,000)
Bali Mumba – Chesterfield (Loan)
Elliot Embleton – Bromley (Loan)
Alim Ozturk – Tranmere (Loan)
It is important for me to win League One, so as you will notice I have brought in the right calibre of player to help me get promotion. Lewis Baker noticeably is the best addition to the squad and I was able to bring him in with my Chelsea connections (see how important having a senior affiliate is).
My view is to play him the left side of a midfield two, another great attribute with Lewis is that he can play with either foot. The stats don’t lie and he should be able to boss this division!
Clean sheets are a priority for me and I like to have a trusted name between the sticks. I am that FM player that doesn’t like anyone over 30, so I managed to ship McLaughlin over to the states for around a million quid. This gave me the chance to bring in Bond, a player that I like to have in a lot of my lower division saves, he’s a leader and will be quality on and off the pitch.
Now all of the dealings have been sorted off the pitch it’s time to start talking tactics. 4-2-3-1 is my preferred formation on any save to be honest. I will always play with a positive mentality and try to win the ball back high up the pitch. My better players are further up the pitch, so if I can win the ball back this team will score a lot of goals.
As you can see I have a mixture of new singings and players who were already at the club. I’m not keen on coming into a club and wiping out a squads core, so older players like Grigg, McGeady and Maguire make my first eleven.
I’m sure things will chop and change throughout the busy season but for now this is my preferred eleven that I will stick with. The bookies seem to think this squad is capable as they priced me as 2/1 favourites to win League One (not to blow my own trumpet but I should be winning the league with this squad). Ipswich are second favourites at 5/2, Portsmouth are at 3/1 and if you had a couple quid Peterborough are at a nice price at 9/1.
Pre Season Friendlies
As many FM regulars will know the pre season schedule is key for any team, as it’s time to gel players together and get your tactics drilled into your players early doors. I like most, delegate my friendlies to be controlled by the Assistant Manager. This is pure laziness and if you judge me I completely understand.
Nevertheless, results went my way and we managed to win five out of the six pre season friendlies.
Sunderland U23s (W) 2-0
Red Star (W) 2-1
Dinamo (L) 0-1
Darlington (W) 10-0
K Beerchot Voetalclub Antwerpen (W) 6-1
FC Twente (W) 2-1
If you managed to read this far thanks, I appreciate the support. This sums up part one but I did want to share a final bit of advice before the start of the season. BRING IN A CLUB LEGEND. I think it’s a bit of an unwritten rule but bringing in a former player as a coach always seems to go down well with the fans. I managed to bring in the former bags man Kevin Phillips as U23 coach.
Please do comment any success stories if you have a save with Sunderland and I will be back with part two of Sunderland Till I Die soon!
Completed Football Manager, so I write about it now. Sports Journalism graduate & East London’s answer to Cattermole.