Football Manager 2018 – The Lonely Traveller – Season Review

Despite my best intentions, my hopes for a long term FM18 save hadn’t materialised. Is there any hope for me maintaining a long term save? Has the game just become too big for me? There’s only one way to find out…

One Last Go

Well, this hasn’t exactly gone as planned.

After the last update, I contrived to switch off the save just a couple of games later. I then conspired to start over at least a dozen times, switching arbitrarily between 4231, 433 and 442. I even decided at one point to chuck it all in and start as Eastbourne in an attempt to replicate my FM14 LLM success. Ultimately though I wanted to succeed here, with Liverpool.

As noted above, the numerous restarts are not down to form. Indeed in several instance I gave someone a pasting, including last time out a 6-3 hammering. Instead it kept coming down to this ridiculous notion of how I should line up and what it said about me if I did it this way vs that way. Given the lack of material progress, I was loathe to update with just more of the same indecisiveness.

Finally then I have a save worth reporting on. Approaching November we find ourselves top of the league with 7 wins and 2 draws from 9 games, 2nd in our UCL group and into the 4th round of the League Cup. We’ve scored in every game so far (bar one pre-season game, which I’ll get to in a minute) and haven’t conceded in 3. Just the one loss to date, a bizarre 1-4 battering by CSKA in a UCL qualifier, which we avenged with a 4-0 home leg to qualify.

Tactically, I eventually settled on a 433. It still feels strange not using 4231 but I had to balance out 1) how to best utilise Salah, my best player, and 2) what I was looking for out of a formation. It was funny, watching actual real life football yesterday, I became frustrated at wingers who cut inside looking to score instead of going wide and crossing, which feeds into my like of 4231 or 442. On the other hand, I love attacking moves where your team swarms the box with bodies, which is better achieved with a 433 and inside forwards. Plus when watching Liverpool batter West Ham yesterday, I had to get me some of that. I am rewarded with Salah scoring 13 in 13 across all competitions, ably supported by unexpected successes such as Oxlade-Chamberlain, a revelation as a Mezzala.

There have been some changes throughout the season but these are a natural part of development. I’m not sure of the best combination of roles in midfield and these may in any event change once Keita joins next season. Regardless, it just feels good to get going.

Anxiety Diaries

… As the new season starts I become more aware that I’m falling behind. There is a sense that I have to catch up and overtake real life, which in turn feeds this need to play all the time.

…This in turn fuels the anxiety of continually restarting as I simply never get anywhere. I haven’t played any other games in weeks. I have obligations for writing game reviews elsewhere. I think about it in the middle of the night. I think about it in the car and with the kids at the park. This isn’t sustainable.

… Midway through the first league match I realise that I accidentally left my mentality on standard instead of attacking. Is that why we drew that game 0-0? Should I start again so as to correct this error?

…I don’t, because that would be dumb. Not that it has stopped me before.

… I still worry that I don’t really ‘get’ 433. I don’t yet understand the combinations of roles and duties. it feels like there are too many gaps across the pitch and I don’t know how to close them all. I must remind myself that this is the challenge. Gone are the days of football management games of yore where a ‘defender’ referred to anyone in the backline. This is a simulation of modern football with the myriad options that throws up. That’s kinda the point.

… I wonder what the point of this all is. Why do I play? What’s the end game? Then I realise. It’s because, when I finally let myself play, when I finally allow myself the freedom to make mistakes, to learn, to develop and grow, there is no greater game. I bloody love it.

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