The Journeyman | Part 85: 21 Glorious Years End With Final Flourish

Way back in August 2019, fledgling English football manager Robí di Lathamé took the reigns of Sporting Lisbon and begin his career with a 3-0 win at home to Gil Vicente with goals from Wendel, Sebastián Coates and Luiz Phellype.

Now, 21 years later at the age of 56, I was preparing for a final match as a football manager. That was as a result of winning my first ever Champions League title, in addition to leading Juve to the Scudetto title that took my tally of domestic titles to 14 in six different countries. And those successes saw Juve become the most reputable club in the world.

I decided to finish my career by going for one of the few elusive trophies, up against Everton in the UEFA Super Cup. To get there, I also added some cracking players during the summer, which leaves Juve in a very strong position.

We dominated the first half but couldn’t finish, but put that right nine minutes after the break through striker Carl Guillaume. And we made sure of it as world-class midfielder Cisco Sappa nodded home from a corner by Papp, who then won a late penalty that Sergio Carrillo missed. Everton made it nervy with a late consolation but we held on for a win in my final match.

21 years of success

The Journeyman save began with the task of Saving Sporting, which happened much quicker than expected as we went and won six league titles in six years!

With that task completed, I moved on to Valencia and eventually overcame Real Madrid and Barcelona to win two titles and the Europa League before being sacked. Cagliari followed next, which didn’t go overly well in the face of some ridiculously lofty board expectations – and another sacking followed.

But things improved with a move to Borussia Dortmund, lifting three successive titles. A huge opportunity followed, as Manchester City came calling. Despite not liking City, I spent big money to lead them to a first English title in 12 years.

Feeling a bit dirty, I immediately jumped boat to try a brand new country. That country was the Netherlands, where I took on an exciting challenge at Feyenoord, who had a great young team that we inspired to two successive titles.

With the second in the bag, and with FM21 around the corner, it was time to look at one last hurrah. And that came with Juventus, with the aim of bagging the elusive Serie A and Champions League crowns. And both of those titles arrived courtesy of probably the best squad of players I’ve worked with on this save.

Away from the domestic game, I led the United States into the 2030 World Cup and ruffled a few feathers, beating Spain in the 3rd Round and narrowly 1-0 to Italy in the quarter finals. I then took on the Denmark job and took them to the semi finals of EURO 2032, losing 3-1 to Spain.

But the big role came as England came calling after those Euros. We lost the Nations League Final 2-1 to France in 2033 but rebounded superbly to win the World Cup in 2034, beating Brazil in a 3-2 thriller in the semis then getting revenge on Italy 2-0 in the World Cup Final with goals from Sir Andy Stockbridge and Sir George Clarke.

Favourite players

I find it incredibly easy to get attached to players on Football Manager, and this save has been no different.

A major part of this save have been two players. The first is the insanely good Daniel Braganca. He was my captain throughout most of my time at Sporting, racking up 50 assists and 44 goals in the league at an average rating of well above 7.70 over five seasons. Nine years on from leaving Sporting, I re-signed Braganca for Dortmund from Barcelona for just £14.25 million. Despite being old, he notched 18 assists and 12 goals in 65 league appearances as he captained us to two more titles. Upon retiring, I snapped him up as a youth coach at Man City and took him to Feyenoord and Juventus with me. Braganca scored 14 goals in 147 caps for Portugal and scored 86 goals with 146 assists in 534 career league games.

The other is striker Philip Cohen, who I signed as a 17-year-old for £18 million from Portsmouth for Sporting back in 2021. He went on to score 93 league goals for Sporting, before I signed him again for £60 million at Valencia. He was even better in Spain, scoring 74 league goals in his first three seasons at La Mestalla. Despite being taken away from Valencia, we were reunited when I became England manager, partnering Cohen in a dream strikefore with George Clarke. Cohen was the captain of my World Cup winning side, which led to the pair becoming rebranded as Sir Philip Cohen and Sir George Clarke. We then snapped him up for one last swansong at Juventus, where he managed to bag two league goals as a 35-year-old. Cohen has just retired and become the under 18s assistant manager at Juve. Cohen scored 68 goals in 114 games for England and 264 goals in 535 league games through his career.

Other favourite players include wingers Joelson Fernandes and regen Goncalo Meneses at Sporting. Joelson stayed at Sporting until 2036 before going to New York Red Bulls for a paycheck and retiring in 2038, and is now an unemployed director of football. Meneses stayed at Sporting until 2035 before joining Sampdoria and Troyes before retiring at 35 in 2039.

Then at Valencia we had the likes of Son Heung-Min banging goals in for a couple of years. We also gpt the best out of an ageing Neymar on loan for a season in 2025/26, before he joined Monaco and retired aged 36 in 2029. While two one-club men Carlos Soler and José Gaya deserve an honourable mention as our captain and vice-captain and some awesome performances.

A favourite of mine at Dortmund was Brazilian/Italian winger Jajá, who is still at the club but scored 24 of his 42 league goals in nine years at the club during two seasons with me. Other players like Matías Sarue and Hitoshi Nakajima are still world-class, the former is regularly recommended as ‘100 rated’ by my scouts and the latter has moved to Tottenham.

While heading back to the brief days in Cagliari, the main man was Thomas De Lucia who scored more than half of our goals. The striker, now 30, is still at the club and is its all-time record goalscorer with 183 goals in 386 league games.

A more recent addition has to be Zsolt Papp, who was phenomenal at Feyenoord and performed well in Juventus. As did midfielder Jonathan Montagne, who was the best player in the brilliant Juve team we finished the save with. While winger Márcio Roberto may well be one of the best players I had throughout the save and could on to be a great.

End of save stats

After 21 years in-game, I racked up a total of 1,086 matches. Of those, I won 755, drew 184 and lost 147, with a win percentage of 69%. My teams scored 2,202 goals and conceded just 712.

Total game time has lasted 7,716 days and my longest time at a club was 2,169 days (at Sporting) and my shortest was 386 days (at Cagliari). In terms of real life time, I started the save on 30th April 2020 and just ticked over to 19 days of game time as I was writing this last post (on 7th October 2020), which ups the addictedness rating to ‘I can give up this game whenever I like. I just don’t want to yet…’

A pleasing fact is that I’m still considered a club legend at Sporting – along with Braganca – as well as being favoured personnel at Dortmund, Feyenoord, Man City and Juventus (but nothing at Valencia and Cagliari).

I bought 189 players at a total value of £1.85 billion. However, I sold 347 players at a cost of £2.71 billion, meaning a near £900,000 profit. The biggest fee I spent was the £95 million for Simon Roger Makengo at City, and the biggest received was £92 million for Kenzo Wouters from Man City to Inter, which became £108 million after clauses.

Across my 21-year career, I earned a total of £75 million and won 36 manager awards. And in total, I won 16 cup tournaments and 15 domestic titles. I finished as the fifth best manager of all time, well behind Pep Guardiola and some way behind Diego Simeone and Alex Ferguson. But I am a better manager than José Mourinho and Zinedine Zidane. I also finished as the best English manager of all time, finishing with 1000 more manager points than the great Bob Paisley.

But, on 15 August 2040 Robí Sebastian Jesús di Lathamé retired as a Football Manager.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who has read any of the 85 blogs tracking my progress through 21 years of this Journeyman save. I’ve really enjoyed this save and, likewise, I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

There’s plenty more to come in Football Manager 2021 with a Beta save idea brewing, along with a long-term full save project that’s very close to my heart (and which I suspect lots of people may attempt).

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