This challenge is simple in principle – Managing Chelsea, you must act as though their transfer ban of the 2019/20 season never ended.
Obviously, this applies to players who haven’t downloaded the Football Manager 2021 season update for 2020.
The rules therefore are as follows:
- New signings are not allowed for the senior squad
- Loans are not permitted for the senior squad
- Player sales are allowed
With the rules set in place, here is episode one of my experience of this challenge; What if Chelsea’s transfer ban never ended?
There are a few major benefits with doing this challenge with Chelsea. Firstly, the fans can’t get on your back for not making any signings in the first year, for obvious reasons. Secondly, your transfer budget is massive, so you can adjust it to have as big of a wage budget as possible, and hope you have the pulling power to keep the players you already have. Finally, there are plenty of very good young players in both the senior squad and the development centre, so we should hopefully be able to challenge even without any transfers.
The main difficulties to start with: Quite a few players that are over the age of 30, and a massive amount of injuries if you’re on the latest update.
But like any team, you work with what you’ve got. Your starting XI is a good one, a good mix of young and experienced, a strong dynamic between the players, and no language barriers to worry about as your whole team knows a good level of English.
I’m starting the season with the team below due to injuries, with a tiki-taka play style. The strength of the team allows you to outplay most opponents, so there’s no need for a route one tactic, or a counter tactic which I’m much more used to using.
Whilst there may be a transfer embargo, there certainly isn’t a ban on bringing in staff, and I wasn’t hesitant in bringing in the Director of Football Matthias Sammer, and FM20 legend Dennis Bergkamp.
With all that started, we started our pre-season friendlies. A very positive start,, we finished our pre-season with a 100% record, beating Inter Milan and OGC Nice along the way. We saw some strong performances from Tammy, Willian and Batshuayi, as well as Emerson who I will hopefully be able to rely on ahead of Alonso.
With pre-season over, our players back from holiday, and many of the injured lads going into rehabilitation, manager No Signings and his boys were raring to go for the 2019/20 season with the Super Cup to come, and the Champions League fixtures to be announced.
We quite honestly had a shite start to the season. Very hard to tell the reason behind some of the results in our opening fixtures, but things just weren’t clicking for us. We dominated our opener against West Ham and lost to a Declan Rice screamer, which was followed 3 days later by a hopeless 2-0 loss in the Super Cup. An easier fixture against Burnley brought us our first win of the season, but we didn’t make it easy for ourselves, beating the Clarets 3-2 despite the match being all blues. The following three fixtures showed a glimmer of strength, with a score draw at Spurs with 10-men, and a 1-1 draw clinched against the Blue Moons.
Between these fixtures was the Champions League draw, which gave us a group we should quite easily be winning, or so we thought.
The decent fixtures came to an end, as in spite of 17 shots on target, we got done 0-2 by Lokomotiv Moscow. Fuming. I was thinking this save was cursed, the results just weren’t making sense, our group was the wrong way round after matchday one.
So, rather begrudgingly already, we continued on, and a tactical rethink was in hand for No Signings and co. A switch to a 433DM Gegenpress, with a little help from these beautiful tactics: How to Get 20+ Goals From Centre Backs on Football Manager 2020 and things began to swing the luck in our favour, and results started coming in as thick and fast as the fixture list. Tammy decided to find form, there were some inspired performances from Reece James, Kovacic and Mason Mount being deployed as a BBM, and all of a sudden we were in the Carabao Cup Quarter final and Qualifying first in our Champions Cup group. With only 1 unfortunate loss to Leicester, and 11 wins from 14 games, we went from an early season struggle to the team to beat.
The January transfer window was around the corner at this point, the second of many where no signings could be made. But it meant some long term loans could be recalled if we needed at the time. Before that though, we entered December, the most packed month of a very heavy schedule, and a tough challenge for The Blues.
And honestly… December left me essentially speechless. It’s a good thing FM20 has preset answers in conferences, because I would’ve run out of things to say for my boys. I’m not sure whether the opponents were easier during the month, or the boys were spurred on by the win bonuses in their contracts, but what had clicked in November carried over, and aside from an acceptable defeat at Anfield, we had an 100% record, including a nothing to play for game against Napoli, and our home fixture against Leicester just two days after Liverpool.
These string of positive results has made me believe I’m a tactical genius, so I will do a separate article on the tactics I’m using shortly (yes I know everyone already knows about the OP Gegenpress). This has honestly been one of my favourite saves to do, and I can’t wait to continue the series. We’re into the Round of 16 of the Champions Cup in which we will face Borussia Dortmund (shitting it), and we have a lucky draw in the Carabao Cup Semis against Norwich.
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