Welcome back, footy nerds. If you’re just joining, the previous installment is available here, and the first installment in the series is available here.

It’s the next morning, and I’m still reeling. This is only a video game, but I had such hope. Truly, when that Max Power penalty went in, I thought we had done it. I thought we had defied the odds and survived in the most dramatic fashion possible. 

The promotion out of League One was competent football management. I’ve played this game a long time, and I didn’t make many basic errors. The squad was fine, I hit on a solid tactic for my players, and we outplayed the teams around us. We might have been a little lucky to win the league, but only a little. 

The promotion out of the Championship was basically a miracle. We had absolutely no business winning that league. With a fair wind and sturdy sails we might have managed back-to-back promotions via the playoffs and felt like it was reasonable if slightly lucky, but not walking the league like we did. Thirteen goals out of Troy Parrott was great, then he went so ice cold that Pfizer is trying to get him to help refrigerate their vaccines. Dan N’Lundulu was a gift from heaven in January and carried us in the second half.

Even with N’Lundulu, we were not prepared for the Premier League. It wasn’t even that we didn’t have proper depth. We didn’t have a proper first 11. I had four regular starters from the League One team in Power, Burge, Willis, and Stewart. Hume and O’Nien didn’t play much, but they both saw some Premier League minutes. 

Other thoughts:

  1. I am an idiot
  2. Much like feeding gremlins, don’t make important transfers after midnight
  3. Spending 17.5m on 16 year-old Lee Farrell was a colossal screw up in terms of squad building; that money should have been spent on three players to rebuild the team’s spine 
  4. It was a mistake to have Ross Stewart as my only backup striker.
  5. It was a mistake to only bring in one young centerback (though Finley was actually solid) 
  6. My summer winger purchases were rubbish. Danjuma was okay, but Diangana was dianbolical. 
  7. Burge has been with us since League One, and he is barely Championship quality. I should have replaced him sooner than January.
  8. Two of my midfielders that saw significant Premier League minutes were from League One and half-decent, but not good enough for the Premier League.
  9. Starting with the possession oriented 4231 was a mistake
  10. My backup tactics relied on wingers that underperformed 
  11. The 352 never really worked, but I didn’t have the wingers to consistently play anything else
  12. Two strikers worked well, and I am strongly considering a 442 and a 4411 if we’re promoted again

My suggestions for anyone getting promoted are:

  • Be ruthless and cull the players that aren’t good enough
  • Don’t overspend on a single player the first season; 4-6m is probably the sweet spot for capable players
  • Have a plan A and a plan B for your main tactics plus a plan C for when you need to shut down a game and want your players to be comfortable with a Defensive mentality. Next time I’ll do a 442 (balanced), 4411 (cautious), and a 4141 (defensive)

Looking back at the season, we missed survival by 1 point. There were so many times we could have turned a narrow loss into a draw. So. Many. Times. It’s maddening to look at now. 

Deep breath. Deep breath. We have a promotion campaign to engineer. Let’s get to it.

See you soon, footy nerds. 

Update: the summer transfer post is available here