Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced: S10 Ep 4 – Back to Back!

Welcome to the final episode of Season 10! It’s been over a decade since we began and what an incredible journey we’ve had. We’re no where near done yet though as if you read Episode 1 from Season 1 you will know the goal of this journey is to manage one of Europe’s elite and take them to the Champions League, literally going all the way from the bottom to the top.

If you haven’t caught up on last episode then I recommend you go and do that now here before I reveal some spoilers! We have gone on another incredible run in the Carabao Cup and managed to reach the final for the second consecutive season, obviously last time out we went on and won it to secure our first major trophy as a manager, however this time we have been drawn against Chelsea who are just incredible on my save so I’m not expecting miracles.

We also finished top in our champions league group of death and had a favourable draw against Club Brugge. We won the first leg away from home 1-0 so are in a good position to progress on to the quarter finals. Last 8 of the champions league, certainly didn’t think I’d be typing that in when we started this journey 10 seasons ago, and to be fair we’re not there yet! We also managed to open up a pretty comfortable 5 point gap in 5th place with 11 games to go in the league, so I’m hoping we can secure European football for a second consecutive season!

In this episode I will be taking you through the final 3 months of the season (March, April & May 2030) where we have the arrival of a promised ‘golden generation’ youth intake, the Carabao Cup Final, Champions League action and massive drama in the League. As always I hope you enjoy reading!

March 2030

As promised March brought with it the arrival of an expected ‘golden generation’ intake for the second consecutive season. If you have been following the journey you will know we have put a lot of investment into the youth academy on all front, scouting, coaching & particularly facilities. That time & money invested always makes March a very interesting time for me as I hope to welcome the next Lionel Messi to the club… wishful thinking I know! Let’s see who we got through the doors this time…

Hmmm… Golden Generation? Bit disappointed if I’m honest. Pavel Xasanov (CM) looks like he will make the first team squad eventually but I don’t think any of the others will ever make it to that level, I hope I’m wrong but I was definitely expecting more from this intake given the preview we had in December.

Anyway I didn’t have long to be disappointed as our first game in March was the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea! I have hidden the result for now so you’ll have to see how we got on down below., but we also played 2 league games and the second leg of the champions league last 16 tie with Club Brugge which you can see.

Right come on then, second Carabao Cup Final in a row, we won the last one against the odds, can we do it again? Well we got off to the worst possible start as we found ourselves 0-1 down inside 90 seconds as Martin Odegaard unleashed an unstoppable strike from 30 yards. Supreme quality it has to be said.

They had us on the ropes for about 15 minutes after that but my boys did well to hold it together and started to build into the game, we created some really good chances but just couldn’t make them count as we went into half-time 0-1 down. However I was happy enough with the first half performance and told the boys as much, that they had been unlucky so far and to keep doing what they were doing.

Sure enough we had our own goal inside 90 seconds of the kick off this time as Ivan Rakic (RW) continued his fantastic season to level the score 1-1… game on! Both sides created chances in a really entertaining cup final but we couldn’t be separated in normal time as the score remained 1-1. Into extra time we go! Now I’m going to tell you this now, there was 1 goal scored in extra time, a penalty… to which team? Guess you’ll have to find out below…


Absolutely incredible, not just to win it again but to win it with that sort of performance against Chelsea, after such an early setback… this team is just incredible, they set new levels every time they step out on the pitch.

Not just to win it, but to beat the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham & Chelsea on the way to doing it is very impressive and shows that we really do deserve it. Unsurprisingly the club were delighted with the second consecutive cup win!

In the competition review you can see the key part Darko Kelava (ST) played in taking us to the cup win as he finished top goalscorer in the competition. We were also given the title of biggest overachievers, which I think is fair despite being the current holders.

Anyway, a 2nd major trophy for us as a manager secured and we move on to some more important games. Just to remind you about the other results in the month of March 2030:

Unfortunately I think the boys may have been celebrating a little bit too much after the Carabao Cup win as we were laboured in the game against relegation threatened West Brom and it took us until the 90th minute to salvage something from the game (1-1). Dropped points like this could be crucial at the end of the season so I was not happy.

However we bounced back with an incredible performance against Liverpool. We absolutely suffocated them and reduced them to just 1 shot on target in the whole game as we ran out comfortable winners (2-0). We finished the month with a comfortable 1-0 win in the 2nd leg of the last 16 champions league tie against Club Brugge, and we’re in to the quarter finals! Who’s next then?

Hmmm… less than ideal! I wanted a team from a different league who may not know exactly what we’re all about, but I know we can give Man Utd a game if we turn up on the day. If we somehow manage to get through the quarter finals then we know it will be either Real Madrid of Liverpool in the next round.

It was a quiet month in the league with only 2 games played and 4 points picked up, but what impact did that have on the table?

Not much to be honest, yes we have dropped down to 6th but we also have a game in hand over the other teams around us so we could go within 3 points of the champions league places if we win, which makes the dropped points against West Brom all the more frustrating!

April 2030

April kicked off with rumours of a takeover, doesn’t seem serious but there has been a lot of speculation over the past 18 months and I would love to just have the situation clarified.

Anyway let’s get back to the field as we play 8 matches in April, including both legs of the champions league quarter final against Manchester United. Plus in the league we have Arsenal, Man City & Chelsea… it’s going to be a tough month!

We start the month with what is a special match for me every season as we go to play the club I support at the Emirates Stadium. Despite twice taking the lead we couldn’t hold on as Arsenal equalised in the 87th minute to finish the game 2-2, I can’t be too annoyed as both sides had good chances and a draw was probably the fair result.

Fortunately we got back to winning ways with an impressive second half performance to give us a 3-1 win against West Ham. However in the first half we were awful, 0-1 down and West Ham missed a penalty to make it 0-2… I tore into the players at half time and it seemed to do the trick as we completed the turnaround and I was even credited by one the team.

Always nice to see that! However what is not nice to see is your team lose the first leg of the champions league quarter final at home 0-2. To be honest I am just happy to be in the quarter finals and was never expecting to get passed Man Utd, they bullied us in reality and it could have been more. However in the league we were still going strong as we demolished Sheffield United 3-0 away from home.

Man Utd finished the job comfortably at Old Trafford and that was us out of the Champions League. What a run it was though, to beat the likes of reigning champions Bayern Munich & Atletico Madrid on our way to topping the group of death is something that will stand out as the most special results on this journey so far. 3 league games remaining to finish off the month and we start with a comfortable 1-0 win over Brighton, it should have been more but we couldn’t finish our chances and our keeper even had to save a penalty just before half time to keep us 1-0 up, but overall win was deserved.

2 very tough games in 3 days to finish the month, first up was Man City at home. It was a game of few chances but we actually took the lead straight after half time, only for City to score 2 goals in 4 minutes to turn the game on it’s head and run out underserved winners in my opinion (1-2). However we followed that up with a repeat of the Carabao Cup final scoreline against Chelsea, this time getting the winner in the 83rd minute to give us a crucial 3 points.

Considering the quality of teams being played in the month I was very happy with 4 wins and a draw out of 6 games. The question is, after City beat us was there still a chance to catch them and had we done enough to secure 5th place?

Oh get in! 1 point behind Champions League places but 5th place secured with 3 games to go, you know what that means…

Our personal objective of qualifying for at least the Europa League next season is guaranteed. Plus that confirmation also ticked off one of the club’s vision objectives a year ahead of schedule as we became recognised as the ‘best of the rest’. I’ll take that!

One more piece of good news came from an unlikely source. You may remember when I signed Gianfranco Paz (CM) in January I said he would spend the second half of the season in the U23’s before going out on loan next season. Well injuries and our busy schedule meant he got given a chance in the first team during the month of April and he did not disappoint as he won young player of the month!

May 2030

Final month of the season now and it kicked off with even more takeover rumours…

It’s getting a bit annoying now, I just want it sorted one way or the other! Anyway, we can only concentrate on running the club in the best possible way, which is certainly what I try to do at every club I manage. We had even more confirmation of that as Sky Sports produced some interesting data when it came to Premier League clubs transfer dealings…

Us and Liverpool are the only 2 clubs in the division who had made a profit across the 2 transfer windows. I love receiving the data reports like this that just constantly back up my thoughts we are doing things the right way, whilst still achieving success for a club of our size.

Anyway, with Champions League qualification still a possibility we had 3 crucial games remaining in the League. Realistically we needed full points to have a chance, 6 points might be enough but we needed to go for 9.

Sadly we could only scrape 4 points in a disappointing final month of the season. All started well as we dispatched of Southampton 3-1 at home, before taking a trip to relegation threatened Middlesbrough. This really should have been an easy 3 points but ultimately we were not clinical enough, we created enough chances but just couldn’t finish them off. I have a funny feeling the combined 4 points dropped against West Brom & here against Middlesbrough will cost us come the end of the season.

We finished the season with an impressive display against runaway league champions Tottenham (who also won the FA Cup & Champions League in an incredible season for them) as we fought all the way to the end to finish on the wrong side of a respectable 2-3 loss. Then that was it! Season 10 completed. Another trophy in the cabinet but could we secure another season of Champions League football?

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be! If we could have just got the goal against Middlesbrough in the penultimate game of the season we would have finished 4th through our goal difference and qualified for the champions league! Oh well, to be honest I am looking forward to having a crack at the Europa League as we almost skipped it by going straight to Champions League football last season.

The brief season review was published and it was all good news for Crystal Palace as we were reminded of the fantastic Carabao Cup success and considered one of the best feel-good underdog stories of the year for our combined League, Cup & Champions League efforts.

What a season our decennial year has been! Make sure you join me for Season 11 soon, who knows, will I still be at Crystal Palace by the time the next season comes round? I guess you’ll have to find out. I have put the full end of season review below for those who want to flick through it, it really does show what another incredible season it has been.

What’s Next?

Another fantastic season! To follow up last seasons first major trophy win with another one this time around is just beyond anything I could have hoped for, plus our performance in the Champions League reaching the Quarter Finals and in the League as we took the top 4 all the way to the final day in the fight for Champions League qualification next season, all the while securing Europa League football ourselves, just brilliant! Make sure you join me next time as we take on Season 11 and there is a big shock over the summer months that you will not want to miss!

Don’t forget you can subscribe below to have updates sent directly to your email so you know as soon as an episode is released! As always if you have any thoughts, tips or feedback leave them in the comments below or get in touch with us through our contact page or social media (Twitter @DP_FM_) – we’d love to hear from you! If you’re enjoying then make sure you like this post and share with others from the FM Community.

While you’re here on DP-FM if you want to follow more challenges go over to Scott’s (the co-author of this site) challenge where he has just completed an incredible journey to rebuild Bolton Wanderers and take them on a Europa League run! Click here for the first ever episode or here for the latest & last ever one.

To check out The Far East Express series click here for the preview, here for the first episode and here for Season 3 (managed by me). I promise you it will be nothing like any other Football Manager Challenge you have seen before!

Thank you for reading and supporting us. As always please keep safe during these difficult times and we’ll see you again soon!

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