Here we go then, my final blog of the FM21 cycle and what a first year blogging it has been for us. Thoroughly enjoying being part of the community, meeting some great people and making some new friends as well – I find it amazing how a game can bring us altogether and long may it continue!
Back to why we’re here though and the focus is of course Dundee United. I did want to do more seasons of this save but unfortunately life did not allow this so in season 4, we’re going for it in the league. Season 3 saw another third placed finish but it was the closest I’d got to the top 2 since the save started, meaning the team are moving in the right direction.
In this season review, it’s all about results in all competitions featured throughout the season, transfers, the squad and any other information of use.
A reminder for the rules of the save, which are key to progression which is why there will be three self set objectives to achieve each season. This will help my progression and the club’s progression in becoming that go to team in Scotland. The season three objectives are;
- Break into the Top Two in The Scottish Premiership
- Progress From the Group Stage in the Europa League
- Have Five under 21 Players (by league registration rules) make 15 appearances by starting or as a substitute
(For context, objectives were decided on 12-Oct-2021 and the save was recommenced on 17-Oct-2021)
Usually if all objectives are passed, the next coaching licence can be obtained however, being the last season of the save there will be no season 5 to get the next coaching licence. I like working towards the self-set objectives so the pressure is still on to get it all done.
Summer Transfers, The Squad & Pre-Season
Before I take you through all that is mentioned in the title, another shout out to my boy @wightyyyy for these unbelievable throwback kits which will be in use for season four. The telewest sponsored kits were some of my favourites as a kid, these are just nostalgic and on point!
Now let’s look at the summer transfers, it was minimal from myself but I done it on purpose as there was only two positions I was interested in improving. A couple of faces from the Reserves will join the squad too which I will cover when I talk about the squad.
Ben Summers was signed on pre-contract and will start off in the Reserves, Adam Brooks who was released by Celtic looked a good prospect on a free transfer who may feature later in the season.
Hugo Felix comes into the first team on loan from parent club Benfica, this is a position where we’ve struggled for consistency over the seasons so I’m hoping the Portuguese flair will bring that. Then Cole Palmer was brought in for £775k from Man City after his transfer listing. Palmer will be a starter on the right hand side as I look for him to provide a flurry of goals and assists.
The outs is busy and shows a few first teamers leave permanently as well as the usual countless loan deals for youth players.
Left back Jamie Robson leaves permanently to Falkirk (£300k) after his loan spell last season. Cameron MacPherson left for Portsmouth for a massive £2m after I only signed him last season for £13k, from a profit view it couldn’t be turned down. Centre back Shaun Want left to head south to Plymouth (£200k) after falling down the pecking order, again profit made here of around £120k.
Dean Campbell was sold to Crystal Palace (Now in EFL Championship) for £750k after I became tired of his poor performances, a shame as he had potential but if you don’t turn up you don’t deserve to stay! Lastly, Logan Chalmers was sold to Reading (£250k), again another who fell down the pecking order and when I tried to loan him out to try and carry on his development he refused! This happened two windows in a row so there was only one other option for him.
Now the transfers are cleared up, this will leave us to review the squad that will be used to start off the season!
Quite a young squad when you look at the ages and there is potential all over shop too. Of course I maintain a few experienced players but I’m very excited for what the group could produce. Darren Watson is now a first teamer after a few loan spells where he has excelled so its only right to give him and opportunity. Jon Davis will have a second crack at first team football after featuring a season or two ago but it was too soon for him, it seems time with affiliate club FK Senica has done him some good in terms of development.
I arranged a good handful of pre-season fixtures which would provide a range of tests for the team.
A very good pre-season performance only losing one game which was the only real poor performance against Reading. Usually pre-season results can be up and down due to the chopping and changing of the squad but it was a generally pleasing period to prep for the long season ahead.
Scottish Premiership – AUG – DEC 2023
It’s a better start than usual as the team are usually slow out of the blocks but again we draw too many games for my liking. Don’t get me wrong comeback draws like the 2-2 with Celtic and Motherwell always feel good but when you’re on the wrong side of it you can only see it as a missed opportunity. The 3-3 draw with Aberdeen, please don’t be fooled by the 91st minute goal…we conceded a minute after.
On the contrary, one loss in these opening months against a rampant Rangers but taking what is a massive four points off of Celtic stands in good stead. The amount of clean sheets is particularly pleasing showing improvement in an area that has been problematic over the seasons. However, where did Dundee United lie in the table at this point?
Despite the amount of draws, we’re in a good place at this point in the season. Clear in third and not that far behind the Old Firm. It is definitely game on but the push has to carry on or we will be languishing in third once again. Although it seems my work had impressed another club as a Premier League job offer came in…
Winter Transfer Window 2024
The January transfer window…I like to keep it calm usually as most who follow this save know however, I will start with the outgoings as who I judged to be my best player turned my world upside down and had me scrambling.
Jeando Fuchs who protects the defence game after game started getting linked with a host of clubs around October time, he had a release clause in his contract of £7.25m but a value of £11.5m. Contract offer right? Fuchs wants no part of it, no negotiation just a straight no. I try again in January, he refuses again and then Guangzhou activate the release clause…it’s curtains.
Safe to say I’m heartbroken at this moment, what more could I have given him apart from that new wage! Anyway, the rest of the outgoings…
The affiliate clubs come in clutch once again with various loans, two of them being back in September due to the Slovakian transfer window. Only other permanent sale was young centre back Adam Hutchinson who joined Ross County for free after agreeing a pre-contract initially. It was clear Hutchinson wasn’t a first teamer ability wise so being the last season I got him out the door. Right, after the Jeando Fuchs whirlwind who did I manage to get in?
Two midfielders come in the form of Uruguayan Santiago Viera after his release from his former club and Rafael Brito comes in on loan from parent club Benfica – both are to cover the void of Fuchs. I wanted more quality in at centre back as Declan Gallagher’s ability starts to naturally decline so Richard Nartey was signed for £725k from Amiens SC. Nartey is a Chelsea academy product before moving to Burnley (IRL) before becoming a bit of a journeyman in these four seasons.
Scottish Premiership – JAN – APR 2024
The form definitely improved as we racked up a good number of wins as the team tried to chase down the top two before the league split. The only team to beat us in the league so far is Rangers and again we reject Celtic from getting three points against the boys.
Both wins against rivals Aberdeen (4-0 & 4-2) were a fantastic watch as going forward we just looked dangerous every time which is the kind of vibe I want from any team I manage on Football Manager. Cole Palmer has been some signing so far despite a few injury troubles and young Jon Davis has become a midfield maestro by excelling in any of the three roles set in our tactic.
It’s quite clear the form keeps us up there but what does the table look like going into the nitty gritty part of the season?
4 points off of second place with a top three place already confirmed but it is quite clear that it is all to play for going into the last five games!
Scottish Premiership – Championship Group (League Split) 2024
This is what this season’s top six group will look like but there are only two clubs on my mind at this point.
Now all I can say from this part forward is things are about to get really intense and let me show you why…
Four games down taking the maximum 12 points including a big 1-0 win versus Rangers. The tables below show you the changes in game weeks 35 to 37 as it turns into what could be seen as an unlikely title race.
Beating Rangers closed us all up before they went off the rails losing a further two games allowing my side and Celtic to set up a crucial last day fixture where they only needed a point…we needed 3 points for the glory but how did it all end?
A five minute collapse in the 70th minute saw us concede three quick goals and the dream was over in an instant. Don’t think for a second that we didn’t put up a fight because we were very much in the match but ultimately it wasn’t meant to be.
Second place was already guaranteed though so we hold our heads up high for even disrupting the order, let alone getting close to the Old Firm.
Betfred & Scottish Cup Round Up
Two cups that have been won on this journey are each of the above but how did we fare this season? Let’s look at the Betfred Cup first.
An early exit for us in the quarter finals as Rangers toppled us early in the season much like they did in the league. I thought this cup was winnable but it simply wasn’t meant to be. On to the Scottish Cup!
A goal filled run to the semi-finals where it was the other Old Firm side who got the better of us in a slender 1-0 loss. Wasn’t our best performance but I was favouring the league over anything else at this point – the sacrifices of football eh?
Europa League 2023/24
I just wanted progression for once in this competition as after two seasons of struggling in the group, I wanted to get through and face a top side before it’s all said and done. First though, we had to qualify.
My side got past Steaua Bucharest with relative ease after doing some hard work in the away leg to set up the home tie nicely. However, it was into pot four once again for the draw.
It’s not bad, I fancy us against Slavia Prague & Dynamo Kyiv where I feel we can take four points off of the latter potentially. OGC Nice will be a tough challenge for all of us remaining in the group.
Come on then, have some of that! What a run in the group that was, remaining unbeaten and collecting a massive 14 points. Grit and determination got us points against OGC Nice and whilst the other games were close, the team had enough about them to get three points.
Table toppers as OGC Nice stutter through to the knockout rounds but being in first place advanced us through directly to second knockout round. This handed a dream tie against Italian side A.S Roma.
Well my side crash out but we didn’t go down fighting. To their credit, Roma dominated us at the Stadio Olimpico however, on a cold night at Tannadice we showed Europe what we’re made of scoring a narrow win. 4-2 loss on aggregate but what an effort from the boys it was.
End of Season & Objective Review
Wow, what a season it has been! Action packed to say the least even if I didn’t catch a trophy with the team, I have enjoyed this season the most of all due to the constant challenges. I did pick up a couple of Manager awards for our hard work which was nice.
I found this quite funny as the board announce new stadium plans as I’m about to call it a day on the save!
And of course the club finances are for viewing to see if it has grown in our time here.
As you will see the finances have certainly risen this season most due to the prize money from the Europa League but having a full stadium every week went a long way! The transfer and wage budget has been boosted massively but unfortunately there is no time for a further season.
Did I pass my final objectives of the save or did it end on a sour note after all that hard work?
Break into the Top Two in The Scottish Premiership – This was a Pass as we finish four points behind Celtic in the league.
Progress From the Group Stage in the Europa League – This was a Pass as my side topped the group before being knockout out by Roma in a dream knockout tie.
Have Five under 21 Players (by league registration rules) make 15 appearances by starting or as a substitute – Six players Passed this objective as seen below, some cracking individual stats in there.
Well that is finally the end of my FM21 journey so all that is left to do is look forward to FM22 and get some time in on the beta to prepare for the full release. If you missed it on our twitter page, my first save will be ‘Generation Guimaraes’ with Vitoria Guimaraes in the Portuguese top division where I focus on bringing through youngsters and keeping the average age below a certain number. The Director of Football will have a lot of say in things too!
Whilst you are exploring the DP-FM site, go check out guest blogger @emperor_fm and his project named ‘Udinese Underdogs’ which has just concluded. The aim is to lead Udinese from the lower parts of Serie A to the better side of the table to compete with the best!
To go from the start – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/08/30/udinese-underdogs-s1-e1/
Well guys, for one thank you for the support and interest on this save it’s been amazing. For me despite only playing a few seasons, I have loved every part of this save and I’m a little sad it’s ending! The dream may have not fully become Tangerine but in reality we were very close indeed. Take care all and see you back here for FM22!