With the in-game Football Manager 2020 clock ticking past 20 years, a new challenge was afoot as title specialist Robí di Lathamé took one last gamble in a career that’s soon to come to a close. With the new Football Manager about to land, I decided to move on from two titles with Feyenoord and joined Italian giants Juventus.
My 7th club in this save sees me join a huge club with a seriously talented squad. And the aim is simple but challenging. Add the Italian domestic title to that of Portugal, Spain, Germany, England and Holland. And, attempt to win a first Champions League on this save.
Strangely, I took over the role with two games remaining in the Serie A 2039 campaign. There was some pressure on as were third behind Genoa and a huge 23 points behind champions Inter. But we won both games to secure second.
Juventus in 2039
Juventus remain the most successful side in Italian history with 46 titles. They won the first five of this save, then two of the next four with Inter and Milan getting one each. Inter then won four in a row, Juve won three, Inter and Juve shared titles, and Inter have won the last two. Last season in particular was emphatic, racking up 100 points to finish 20 clear of Juve.
Despite that gulf, Juve do have a wealth of talent in their first-team squad. The player I’m probably most excited about managing is Belgian striker Carl Guillaume. He is an absolute monster of a striker!
Another is French midfielder Edouard Pierre-Charles, who I’ve been aware of since he came through at Lyon but could never afford him for teams I was managing. Now 31, he’s considered a legendary midfielder.
But the player my coaches believe is the best at the club is Brazilian left-winger Márcio Roberto, whose attributes are pretty impressive but he needs to be a bit more consistent.
There are also a few familiar faces in midfielder/centre-back Sergio Carrillo, who I signed for Valencia 11 years ago, Brazilian striker Dimba who we had on loan at Cagliari, and right-winger Salvatore Palumbo, who Juve signed from me at Dortmund in 2034.
Busy summer transfer window
I began the summer by shipping out some of the deadwood Juve had amassed, bringing in over £200 million. That gave us plenty of cash to burn and I swiftly set about doing that, spending more than £130 million. And, with the fact that FM21 is just around the corner, I utilised a transfer policy of buying players that will improve the first team and a tactic of adding clauses like ‘50% of next sale profit’ to help us spend less money up front.
The rebuild began with returning to Feyenoord to snap up left wing starlet Zsolt Papp for £34.5 million and centre-back Adrie van de Sande for £20 million. We also added exciting Portuguese right-winger Ivan Barbosa Martins from Dortmund for £40 million and holding midfielder Luiz Ricardo for £8 million from Goiás.
We also bolstered our attack with the loan signing of Real Madrid striker Jacobo Miranda, who scored 14 goals in 26 games for Real last season. The main area we were lacking was midfield depth, which I addressed by returning to Feyenoord to sign Jonathan Montagne for £30 million.
And, as one final nostalgic move, I noticed that Sir Philip Cohen, my Sporting and Valencia striker and the captain of my England World Cup winning team, was available on a free transfer. Despite him being nowhere near the quality required anymore, I swiftly snapped him up to add depth up front.
Cohen aside, I think we’ve added depth to a strong squad. Inter, however, also have a ridiculously good team, so winning Serie A is going to be really difficult. That said, I’m keen to really target the Champions League in what’s likely to be the final season of the save.
And this is how we’re lining up for the new season with a new club, taking a tiki-taka approach that looks to dominate possession.
Serie A kicks off
We got off to a flyer in the opener at Bari as Barbosa Martins put in a great run own the right and crossed for opposite winger Márcio Roberto to nod home. Barbosa Martins did it again 14 minutes later to set up an attack before getting into the middle to score on his debut. Just before half-time Márcio Roberto doubled his tally, taking a corner then picking up the loose ball to smash home from a narrow angle. 3-0 at half-time and that’s how it stayed. And, Inter lost their opening game at home to Napoli!
Márcio Roberto was at it again in our first home game against Chievo Verona, scoring the opener, winning a penalty that Pierre-Charles tucked away, scoring a brilliant looping header just after half-time and smashing home two powerful volleys to claim a four-goal haul. That took him to six goals in two games, after scoring just nine in 28 last season! A 6-0 win was completed by a Pierre-Charles 30-yarder, what a start!
The winning start continued with a 1-0 at Ascoli, 3-0 at home to Pescara sealed by substitute Papp adapting quickly to life in Italy, and 1-0 at Genoa taking us to 14 scored and none conceded going into a first big test at home to Roma. But we brushed them aside too with Barbosa Martins opening the scoring then Papp scored a sensational goal, dribbling from his own box to double the lead. They somehow got back in it with only their second shot ut Carrillo settled it with a penalty.
Another big test followed as we went to AC Milan, who were fresh from a 6-1 battering at Parma, but we couldn’t score as we dropped our first points in a 0-0 stalemate. That was forgotten as we smashed Crotone 4-0, Fiorentina 4-1 and Perugia 4-0, in which Sir Cohen scored his first Juve goal.
We then fully unleashed on Bologna, managed by Ciro Immobile, winning 6-0 away led by an 11 minute second half hat-trick from Guillaume and a Márcio Roberto brace. The Brazilian winger was at it again at home to Napoli, surpassing last season’s goal tally then teeing up Barbosa Martins for the second. The latter bagged a brace in a 2-0 win at Sampdoria then the same result at home to Lazio took us into a huge game at main rivals Inter.
This came with 15 games played and we’d won 14 of those, scoring 44 and only conceding twice in the process. This was easily the best start I’d ever made to a season, and Inter were already 10 points behind us. But we came unstuck with Inter stealing a narrow 2-1 win courtesy of a late goal from John Mina, my former centre-back at Dortmund.
But we got back to winning ways with a dominant 2-0 win at home to Atalanta. Then took on my former club Cagliari, who were managed by Eddie Howe and sitting third in Serie A. We were given a huge chance just after the half hour as we were aarded a penalty and they had a player sent off, only for Márcio Roberto to go and miss it. However, we got a second just after half-time that he converted, then Montagne settled it with a late screamer.
The next day, Inter beat bottom of the league Perugia by the mere 11 (eleven!) goals to 0 – which doesn’t come close to the Serie A record of Sassuolo 13-0 SPAL in 2025 – to take us into the winter break seven points clear of them.
Champions League group
The quest to finally win the Champions League will have to be done the hard way as we were drawn in a group with Real Madrid, as well as old foes Benfica and Anderlecht.
We opened up against Anderlecht and Papp – playing a little more advanced than he did at Feyenoord – scored eight minutes into his full debut to get us going, then doubled his tally nine minutes later. He then laid on a goal for Carrillo to seal a solid 3-0 win. Papp continued his great start with a hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Benfica.
That took us into a clash at Real, who were fresh from battering Bilbao 9-2. And they battered us too, scoring inside 4 minutes then going on to thump us 5-0, with striker Samuel Sepulveda, who’s probably the best striker in the world, scoring four. They have a ridiculous team.
However, we managed to keep them out in a 0-0 draw at home, then beat whipping boys Anderlecht 2-0 away. Benfica could have qualified if they beat us on the final day but we dashed any chances of that by thrashing them 6-0 led by a Guillaume brace.
Join us next time in what could be the last six post of this series and Football Manager 2020 as we look to continue our Serie A push and enter the Champions League knockout stages.