Season 10

With season 9 flying by, and only an ill-fated spell in charge of Italy to speak of, I had to get back in the game. I enjoyed the media work but it’s nothing compared to the day-to-day running of a football team. I also wanted a challenge. I was offered jobs at West Ham and Liverpool but I’ve done the Premiership and conquered it. I also wanted a club where I had work to do. Build up the coaching and scouting staff and earn money to improve the facilities. So here I am. In the German 2nd division. With Union Berlin.

The press were aghast and my drop from winning the Champions League with Arsenal to a team that are expected to finish in the top half of 2. Bundesliga but I’m looking forward to the task at hand. First issue is pretty much everyone in my squad wants to leave or is wanted by another club. It’s a fairly big first team squad with not a lot of potential talent so I’ve trimmed it down and allowed 14 players to leave. That also raked in £2.9m so I’ve a wee bit to spend and I’ve also got a bit of leeway with the wage budget now.

Next task was the backroom staff. I tried to tempt Marius Stankevicius, my number 2 at Arsenal, to join me but he clearly didn’t have my sense of adventure so I’ve filled all available slots in the backroom team but only on one year contracts so I can improve them if we get any success.

As for transfers in I’ve reverted to my old Siena days and relied primarily on loans and frees. Aniello Capuano (RB Salzburg, winger), Ian Boisson (Juventus, DMC), Cedric Gorgelin (Lyon, MC) and Ellis Keen (Southampton, AML) all came in on loan and Heimo Schicker arrived on a free from Kaiserslautern. My main striker, Felix Weber (who had scored 6 in 6 at the start of the season), was then targeted on transfer deadline day and although I rejected an initial offer from Admira Wacker he went in a right huff and I had to sell him. Therfore I splashed out on 21-year-old Cesare Pellegrino, a striker from Juventus. He looks the business and has a potential rating of 5 stars, not bad for £600k

So, onto the games. My board expect us to finish in the top half of the league and reach the second round of the German Cup, seems reasonable. The first thing I notice is we don’t have a lot of games to play. It’s an 18 team division so only 34 league matches (compared to 38 at Siena, Lazio and Arsenal) and only one cup competition. We start the league season in fine form and have so far won our opening 5 matches. We also dispatched a lower league team, the delightfully named Sprockhovel, in the 1st round of the German Cup so we’ve already reached our target for that competition. So far, so good.

You always hear people go on about attendances in Germany and rightly so. We have averaged a little over 20,000 (although we’ve only played 2 home games) so far and that only ranks 10th in the division. For context that would rank

  • 14th in Serie A
  • 3rd in Serie B
  • 16th in Ligue 1
  • 3rd in Ligue 2
  • 18th in La Liga
  • 6th in La Liga 2

Our city neighbours Hertha currently average around 62,000. As a wise man once said ‘we’re going to knock them off their fucking perch’. However, given Union have won pretty much fuck all in their history that’s going to be easier said than done. Still it’s my job to get the Stadion An der Alten Försterei rocking. We are definitely gonna need a catchier name than that. Our nicknames are (according to Wikipedia):

The nicknames of the club are Eiserne (The Iron Ones) or Eisern Union (Iron Union), both of which are used to refer to the club from Berlin. Their nicknames evolved from the earlier sobriquet Schlosserjungs (metalworker boys), which was in reference to the blue kit the Union played in, as it was reminiscent of the overalls worn by local workers.

I think I like Schlosserjungs best. It’s such a beautiful language.

Untitled
Union’s ‘honours’ list

Now the challenge has been completed with both of us winning the big ones I’ll probably just update at the end of each season from now on. Having said that I really like this save so if I get caught up in any good moments I may record them for posterity.

league

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A season 11 round-up

Here’s a single post wrapping up my season 11 of our Journeymen save. I’m no longer manager of France, having dropped the mic as soon as I held aloft the World Cup. So, here we are, still at Montpellier, and still trying to win the Champions League. Although crucially, you might remember, we didn’t qualify for it last season.

Coupe de la Ligue

The board are not interested in this trophy, but my cabinet is bare and I’m hopeful.

We join the competition at the 4th round stage, and go into a tie against Amiens SC. A straightforward 2-0 win follows. It could’ve been more, too.

And that’s us into the Quarter Final, and a game against much tougher opposition: Olympique Marseille.

We scrape through, with a 2-1 victory. OM batter us, but goals from Sandro and Ayao see us through.

The Semi Final is against another of the teams up near the top of Ligue 1: Olympique Lyonnais. This one is slightly more convincing, and goals from Lemos and Febas get us into the final with a 2-0 victory.

To the final!

We’re playing OGC Nice and, I’ll cut to the chase, we win! A fairly underwhelming 1-0 victory sees me pick-up my first trophy for Montpellier in my 5th season of managing them. I’m not sure I would’ve lasted as long in the real world.

Coupe de France

1 Game, in the 9th round; 1 defeat, to lower league opposition.

The board are not happy.

La Ligue

This year’s league form is a tale of two halves. Well, it feels like it.

We start well, with a 4-0 win at home to AS Nancy Lorraine. We then lose two on the bounce, before going on a 5-match unbeaten run.

WLLWWDWW

Around this time, vice-captain Mauricio Lemos decides to go in the huff regarding a potential move away. His mate, Steven Kamphuis joins him, so I throw both of them in the reserves.

Bad move. Squad anarchy. Our next 6 matches look like this, and we end up miles off the pace.

LLDDWD

The two rebels are eased back into the first team fold, and harmony is somewhat returned. In fact, we go on a bit of a run and from December to mid-March, we are unbeaten.

WWWDWWDWWWDWDWW

However, the games we lose are against our title competitors AS Monaco and PSG and, those games aside, we go the rest of the season without losing to anyone else.

That little drop in form early in the season, though. It killed our title challenge. In the end, we finish behind both, in 3rd, and although we quality for the Champions League next year, it doesn’t feel like a successful season.

Speaking of Europe.

Europa League

We escape Group I in 1st position. It’s not as comfortable as it sounds, as we only win 3 of our 6 games. 2 Draws against Dinamo Bucureşti, and an away defeat at FC København make it a whole lot less comfortable than it should’ve been.

The 1st Knockout Stage sees us up against PSV, and we do the business in the Netherlands, winning 1-0 at the Philips Stadion after a Komivi Ayao injury-time winner. It’s 2-2 at home, and we head to a 2nd Knockout Stage tie against West Brom.

Two 1-0 victories make it sound tighter than it was. We’re absolutely superior in both legs and should’ve won by a much larger margin in both games.

The Quarter Final is against SL Benfica and we’re at home for the first leg.

After 8 minutes, we are 3-0 up, following goals from Sandro, Ayao, and Simeone. Easy street. Until they score 2 goals before we get to half-time. The equaliser comes in the 66th minute and we ride out a bit of an onslaught and head to Portugal having conceded 3 away goals.

We’re much more comfortable away from home, it seems. Goals from Ayao and Sandro (2) get us to the Semi Final with a 3-0 victory.

It’s local rivals AS Monaco in the Semi, and we almost beat them. Almost. 1-1 at Monaco, we’re confident going back to the Stade de la Mosson – Mondial 98 (I presume this was built for the 1998 World Cup), but they rob us 1-0. We even contrive to miss a late penalty, during a period in which we are the better team. If only, eh?

Oh well, maybe next year.

They think it’s all over?

With John winning the Champions League, and me winning the World Cup, I think we can call that a draw.

Only kidding. John was the clear winner here, and congrats to him.

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve already completed season 11, and will post updates here. After that? I think I’ll continue the save, but probably not post on here very often.

It’s only the bloody World Cup!

France are the 6th best team in the World, and I’m their manager. I must be doing something right, but it’s definitely not related to my ability to win domestic – or even European – trophies.

The 2026 World Cup takes place in Canada – in real life, this has still to be decided, but I’m sure they fancy their chances.

We’re drawn in Group D, alongside USA (16th in the World), Belgium (10th) and Uruguay (11th) – who I previously managed.

After a successful batch of warm-up friendlies (Belgium, 5-1; Northern Ireland, 2-1; Mali, 4-0), we line up against USA in fine form.

There are a few players upon whom I’ll rely throughout this tournament – Paul Pogba (Captain), Heidi Camus, Kingsley Coman, and Rayane Monnier all seem like World beaters.

We go into the USA game playing the same (or similar) formation that my Montpellier team used in the closing stages of what was, ultimately, an unsuccessful season. So, a kinda 4-3-3, with a holding midfielder.

It seems to work. We win 2-1, but our goals come from a cracking free-kick (Monnier) and an opportunistic strike (Anthony Martial) following a calamitous error from the USA defence. So it’s a win, but it’s not entirely convincing.

Next up is a game against a Belgium team featuring Romelu Lukaku (Captain), Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. The young stars still playing, 10 years into the future.

The tactic stays the same, and we’re 2-0 up after 11 minutes. Unfortunately, Kevin George gets sent off after 21. Belgium pull one back just before the break, and another midway through the second half, but our earlier goals from Coman and Martial give us a 2-2 draw.

Our final game of the group is against Uruguay. When I managed them, I got them to the final of the Confederations Cup, where we were defeated by Portugal. That tie went to form, as Portugal were the better team; I’m hoping the same is true here, as we’re 5 places better than them in the FIFA rankings.

Uruguay will be wondering what could’ve been, or some other cliché. We beat them 1-0 in a match we dominated. 26 shots to Uruguay’s 7 suggests it could’ve been more, but we’re into the Second Round, and a match against Italy.

The media are calling it a grudge match, but they’re 13th in the World, so I’m not worried. Although, it is Italy. And they do take a 2-0 lead early in the second half.

When that second goal goes in, I bring on Paul Pogba – foolishly rested because he was so knackered after the Group Stage – and we score 3 goals in 10 minutes. Dayot UpamecanoAntoine Griezmann, and Pogba himself with the goals.

France goes wild.

The Quarter Final brings a tie against Nigeria – currently 17th in the World. Another easy game, surely. Hmmm.

0-0 at Full Time, and goal-less during Extra Time. This is not ideal.

Fortunately, Nigeria are rubbish at penalties, scoring only 1 of the 4 we allow them to take. Aymeric Laporte misses for us, but Montepellier legend (I gave him his first cap) Jeando Fuchs scores the goal that takes us to a Semi Final, against Germany.

And this is where it ends.

Well, that’s what I’d usually say. This time though, our European neighbours are no match for this maruading French squad. These heroes; these légionnaires; these hommes forts français!

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!

Sorry, got a bit carried away there.

Kylian Mbappé and Camus score the goals in what was, to be honest, a lucky 2-0 win. Germany were all over us, and it was the most nerve-wracking game of Football Manager I’ve ever sat through.

My nerves were to continue into the final. Against England.

I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Another league campaign ends

I blame myself.

League form to date has been, as you’ve seen, patchy, at best. However, as our time in the Champions League comes to an end, we start to get a few more points on the board. Is it too little, too late?

January starts well, with a 2-1 win at home to Stade Malherbe CaenSavic and Sandro grabbing a goal either side of one from Caen.

A 1-0 defeat at OGC Nice is followed by a couple of wins against Stade Rennais FC (2-1, SimeoneFebas) and AS Saint-Etienne (2-1, Simeone, Romeiro).

February sees a return of our early season form, with a draw, 2 defeats and 2 wins. Those two wins come at the end of the month, against AS Monaco (2-0, SavicLemos) and Havre Athletic Club (1-0, Winking) and heralds the return of last season’s title challenging form.

Those two games are the start of an 11-match unbeaten run – with only two draws along the way. 32 points from a possible 36. An astonishing run of games, and yet…

We’re nowhere near challenging for the league. We finish the campaign on 71 points – 10 points fewer than last season. Worse still, league winners PSG have upped the ante, and finished on 89 points. Worst stillAS MonacoOMand OGC Nice finish on 88, 86, and 79 respectively, pushing us into 5th place and a Europa League spot.

We have regressed! There will be no Champions League next year!

I said at the start that I blame myself and, mainly, that’s because I didn’t bulk up the squad enough for a decent run in all competitions. The team were knackered throughout the season. Honestly, I’m not sure how we managed that final run, but it was probably due to the fact that I had started trusting my second-string and not running the first 11 into the ground.

So, it’s a disappointing end to season 10. However, there is some good news…

The Cups, including the big shiny European one

Let’s get this first one out of the way, before we go any further. The board wanted us to reach the Semi Final of the Coupe de France and, in the two ties we play in Rounds 9 and 10, we win one 1-0, and lose the other 2-0.

Moving on…

Coupe de la Ligue

The Coupe de la Ligue is the one that no-one cares about, but the board still want a Semi Final appearance.

First up is a 4th Round tie against PSG. Can you tell what comes next? Surprisingly, we win 2-1. A bit of a mugging, to be honest. 22 shots to our 8 although, having said that, they only manage one more on target than we do. Second-half substitute Giovanni Simeone gets a couple as we march onto a Quarter Final against Havre Athletic Club.

They’re soundly beaten 4-0, with goals from SandroSimeone (2), and Mattia Franchini.

The Semi Final sees us up against OM, and we’re 3-0 up at half-time. Some of the bigger teams might be resting their players but I’m chalking up these cup wins to my own tactical genius, obviously. OM pull one back in the 89th minute, but earlier goals from Franchini, Emre Can and Simeone see us through to the final.

Now, annoyingly, we should’ve won this. To be fair to OGC Nice, it was a pretty even tie, finishing 0-0 after 90 minutes, but we made enough chances to take it. As it is, we go down to a 99th minute, Extra Time winner, and another chance at silverware goes a-begging.

Champions League

The big one. Never mind those parochial French cups. This is the only thing we want to win etc.

This will be a short post.

Our group stage form carries us into a 1st Knockout Round tie against Arsenal, and we do well. Very well.

At Home, Sergey Savic scores a 69 minute winner that takes us to the Emirates with a 1-0 lead to defend. We take a 3rd minute lead, through Steven Kamphuis, but are immediately pegged back. Midway through the second-half, Arsenal take the lead in the match, 2-1. As it stands, we’re through on away goals.

And that’s how it finishes.

My first ever Journeymen run in the Champions League has thrown up a number of British teams in Celtic, Arsenal and now, Man Utd. A Quarter-Final against the tournament favourites then.

It’s not pretty.

At Old Trafford, we come away with a respectable 3-2 defeat. It’s 2-2 right up until the 80th minute when our young defender Laurent Saizonou puts past his own keeper and we go to the Home leg needing to win. And that’s where it all falls apart.

Actually, to be fair, 3-0 is harsh. Man Utd take the lead early on, and we then get Jeando Fuchs sent off early in the second half. From then on, it’s backs to the wall, counter-attack stuff. But they’re not for budging and, in the end, they bang in a couple of goals in the 82nd and 90th minutes.

The Champions League dream is over for another season.

Season 10 progress, or a lack thereof

Firstly, congrats to John on his Champions League win! Effectively, that’s the game over, but I’ve a few scheduled updates to go, with some fairly big news on its way, so i’ll let that play out.

In my last update, we were 10 games into a Ligue 1 campaign, and had successfully navigated ourselves out of the Champion League group stage. The latter took us up to the end of December, so here’s what happened in the league during that same period.

Inconsistent, is the word I would use. And annoyingly, we’re playing teams we should be easily beating.

We round off October with a home game against Havre Athletic Club, and they hold us to a 0-0 draw. As you can see from the stats, we’re the better team but, as will be the case throughout much of this season (spoilers), we’re not scoring as frequently as we once were. I mean, Sandro and Simeone could only muster a 6.5 and 6.7 respectively. Just not good enough.

Worse was to come as we traveled to Angers SCO. We come away with our tail between our legs having been gubbed 3-1 when, again, we were much the better team. Our solitary goal was scored by young superstar Haris Ahmetovic. Remember that name; there will be a quiz at the end.

November sees us draw two and win two, without conceding a goal. An upturn in form that is very much welcome. Sandro and Ahmetovic grabbing 3 goals between them.

As we close out 2025, and head towards the winter break, we stretch our unbeaten run to 7 games, with another 2 draws and a win, before going down 2-1 to OM.

Our form, from the end October to the end of December then, is:

DLWDWDDWDL

Too many draws, right? I mean, we’ve only lost 4 times in 20 games, but we’re nowhere near the top of the table, and are hovering between 6th and 7th place. PSG, meanwhile, are romping away with it.

So, the January transfer window then. What was the name of that player I mentioned? That’s right, Haris Ahmetovic. We get an offer from Liverpool and he goes. I don’t really want to sell him, but it’s a lot of money, and he’s been injured most of the last year. In the end, he heads to Anfield for £22m, rising to £28m.

We buy a couple of backup players in left-back Hiroki Ogawa, and Advanced Forward Jean-Luc Pons. Neither of them will threaten the team sheet in the short-term, and I don’t think I need to worry about bolstering the first 11.

Although, it turns out I do.