In my first year as a manager in Holland, in about 20 years of playing Football Manager in real life, I led Feyenoord Rotterdam to their first Dutch title in 11 years in-game. That 2037/38 success marked a fourth successive season winning the league title in three different countries.
However, this time I don’t want to jump boat after a season as I’m keen to see if we can build something with this Feyenoord side. There’s plenty of potential in the club with several exciting youngsters (and there weren’t any other jobs going in the summer).
But in terms of this journeyman save generally, the aim of winning every major European title is now only lacking France (which I can’t really be bothered with) and Italy. So I’ll be keeping a keen eye on decent jobs becoming available in Italy while plugging away with Feyenoord.
The first port of call was to move on players that didn’t perform, were too old or generally weren’t good enough. Major sales saw Yakubu Antwi move to Cruz Azul for £6.55 million and the terrible Ramon Campi and right-back Dick Bakker both go to Athletico Paranaense for £7.5 million for £6.5 million respectively.
Our first move in the transfer window was to bring in a former player that I thought had plenty of chance to become a great while I was at Manchester City. He also scored the winning goal in last season’s Champions League final, but found himself transfer listed. And we snapped up midfielder Jonathan Montagne for £25 million. I think this is a great signing.
Then came another midfielder in German wonderkid Christian Berger, who we snapped up for free as his Hertha contract expired. Also one for the future is Venezuelan striker Arian Sosa, who also comes in for free from Juventus. And we added some defensive strength with 24-year-old English centre-back Matt McGinn for £7 million from Newcastle.
We added to that with the loan signing of a striker I tried to snap up last season, but he chose Man United instead. Kevin Verbeek comes in for a year, and should be our starting striker. We also went back to England to snap up young Spurs right-back Tim Bersey for some defensive cover.
That leaves us looking in decent shape, although I feel quite hamstrung by our wide players being natural as midfielders rather than attacking midfielders. I wanted to try and switch up the formation a little, potentially to a 4-4-2, but for now we’ll stick with this 4-4-1-1. Although I’m really struggling to get anything out of any player in the attacking midfield position.
Strong start to Eredivisie defence
Our defence of the Dutch title began in absolutely stellar fashion, winning 2-0 at Fortuna Sittard then thumping Heracles 5-0 inspired by a Verbeek hat-trick, and coasting to a 3-0 win at Roda JC. Four more wins followed before we entertained Ajax and took the lead through Verbeek only for them to tie it up in the second half.
We kept the good form going with a 4-1 romping of 5th-placed AZ Alkmaar, then went to PSV and played out a 0-0 in a match in which we had one highlight and they had zero!
After 10 games, we were undefeated and four points clear of Ajax, who also hadn’t lost, and five clear of PSV. Verbeek was the league’s top scorer, young left-winger Zsolt Papp had the most assists, and we had the top three and six of the top eight average ratings in Eredivisie. Papp, by the way. has an average rating of 7.98 in 13 games in all competitions – he is amazing and it’s no wonder Real Madrid, Man United and co all want him.
Career Match 1,000
The good times continued to roll as steamrollered Heerenveen 3-0 led by the impressive Montagne, who’s scored three and made four at an average rating of 7.68 from centre midfield thus far.
But we slipped up with a 1-1 draw at home to Vitesse, in which they scored a dodgy 89th minute penalty. Then lost our first game of the season with an injury depleted side going down 2-0 in an awful display at ADO Den Haag.
That took me into my 1,000th match as a manager as we welcomed NAC Breda to De Kuip. But the lads didn’t exactly deliver a classic in celebration. They had a player sent off on 19 minutes and we rained 28 shots on their goal but only scored through an Adrie van de Sande header on 82 minutes.
Next was a huge game as we went to the Johan Cruijff ArenA to face Ajax, who were languishing in 6th but, like us, had two games in hand on the teams around us. But we came good in this with a 3-1 win inspired by main men Papp and Verbeek. And another big game saw us host PSV in yet another dull 0-0 draw, which kept us four points clear of them with two games in hand.
That set us up for the rest of the season having played both Ajax and PSV twice in second, just one point behind AZ with two games in hand. We’re four points clear of PSV and six clear of Ajax, so a second title in Holland looks a good possibility!
Champions League group
Our pot one draw in the Champions League got the first nice draw I’ve had in a long time. We were in a group with Juventus, Galatasaray and Slavia Praha.
We opened up with a 2-2 draw in Istanbul, which is never nice, but did our chances plenty of help with a 2-0 win at home to Juventus with goals from wingers Koskinen and Papp. Verbeek then came off the bench to bag a late brace that downed Slavia 2-0 in Prague.
We then beat Slavia 3-0 at hme with Berger scoring his first goal after 17 matches, which continues the trend of AMs being crap on FM20! Then a Lammers goal saw us through to the knockout stages with a 1-0 win at home to Galatasaray.
A defeat to Juventus saw us finish second in the group but confirm our place in the knockout rounds.
Join us next time as we complete our second season in Holland in search of a second title. And, by the way, this looks like being our penultimate season of this Journeyman save given that the FM21 Beta is just around the corner.