The monumental rise of Raith Rovers had culminated in well and truly ending the Old Firm domination of Scottish football. The Fife side had wrapped up successive titles in 2026/27 and 2027/28, as well as winning two of the last three League Cups.
This save has been really fun, especially as it’s the first time I’ve managed in Scotland in many, many versions of Football Manager. But, with FM21 now upon us time is running out, so I’ll press ahead with the save and wrap up how Raith progressed in this final blog.
The summer of 2028 began with job offers from England and Holland, which would have have increased my wages six-fold but were rejected. Interestingly, long-time Celtic boss and nemesis Neil Lennon took the Dutch role.
And it ended with a pretty solid transfer window, in which we renewed loans for striker Nicolás Baldi, and signed right-back Ashley Patate on a free, and he’s second favourite for Scottish player of the year. We also broke our transfer record twice by spending £1.9 million on our third Colombian in midfielder Antonio Ríos and £2.5 million on exciting 18-year-old Argentinian striker Gaspar Lobo. We also added experience to the youthful squad in midfielder Nabil Bentaleb and right-back Tin Jedvaj.
We got off to an absolute flyer, winning eight of our first 10 games, including Ríos bagging a hat-trick in a 5-1 thumping of Dundee. However, Rangers and Celtic had terrible starts and languished fifth and sixth over 10 points behind us. Our good league form continued as did Celtic’s poor fortunes, to the point that heading into the winter break after 21 matches – and after thumping them 4-2 – we were top, unbeaten and 15 points clear of Rangers, with Celtic miles back in 7th – 24 points behind us!
Our good form also led to new boy Lobo winning the European Golden Boy award, after scoring 11 in 26 games for us. The form had largely been down to the performances of right-winger Ash Nolan, for whom Arsenal came in with a bid that became a club record sale of £21.5 million.
Our remaining wonderkid strikeforce of Baldi, Zivkovic, Piscitella and Lobo were also attracting attention and bids from Europe’s finest. And that attack became even more exciting with Nolan’s replacement Ahn Min-Jae arriving for just £2 million from Porto.
After the break Celtic lost again as Ahn scored on his debut and Piscitella bagged a brace in a 4-0 win at bottom of the league Kilmarnock. This team has suddenly become phenomenally good for this level. We were less good in the Champions League but did make the Europa League, in which we knocked out Shakhtar and Atalanta, before facing Liverpool. They hammered us at Anfield but we nicked an away goal in a 3-1 loss despite their 35 shots to our 3, and a famous home performance saw us win 2-0 to edge through on away goals thanks to Willie Binnie’s 88th minute decider. But we fell just short with a 2-1 aggregate loss to Dortmund in the semis.
My 500th match as Raith manager came in a trip to Aberdeen in late January 2029 and we celebrated it in style with a 3-1 win thanks to Baldi, Cranston and Ahn. And the unbeaten league form continued all the way through to the end of March when an injury-ravaged side lost at home to St Johnstone and Rangers, then took a 4-0 thumping at Celtic.
The league form dip was arrested with a 1-0 win over Dundee United, but then slipped to three consecutive draws that saw Rangers pull to within four points of us with two games remaining. They played before us and won but we struggled to a 2-2 draw at Dundee United – which tied up a final day showdown at home to Rangers. Things weren’t looking good as they twice led, but they had a player sent off then gave us a late penalty that, fittingly, hero of the save Willie Binnie converted to seal a third successive title!
Raith Rovers were Scottish champions for the third time! Despite drawing our last five games and winning just one of the last nine…
We also reached Raith’s first Scottish Cup Final since 1913, beating Rangers 1-0 in the semi to take on Dundee United. A dire game ended 0-0 (a sixth successive draw!) and we won it 4-1 on penalties to seal Raith’s first-ever Scottish Cup and a domestic treble! This also moved me into the Scottish Hall of Fame for the first time.
Lobo was our top scorer with 19 goals and Baldi set a new club record with 18 assists, along with 17 goals. Cranston set a new club record with 10 player of the matc awards and Alex Simpson broke his own record with 29 clean sheets. Patate also set a new club record with 19 bookings!
Into the future with Raith
We’d achieved amazing things with Raith but all good things come to an end and, with a somewhat heavy heart, I decided the start of 2029/30 was the point to start pulling the plug. We lost star right-back Pateta to a minimum fee release clause and it was becoming more difficult to find players that were good but not obscenely expensive. However, a sign of our progression as a club was that only one of our starting eleven was now a loanee.
In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo became the Celtic manager after they binned off Eddie Howe. 2029/30 began brilliantly with a 3-1 at Greenock then I decided to sim the save following the end of the transfer window. And, without sounding hugely big-headed, that proved the amazing job I’d done as manager of Raith.
By January the club was down to third in the league, then a series of bids from clubs around Europe saw key players Lobo and Ríos leave the club for combined fees of £30 million – which didn’t even touch the sides when they entered our bank balance. By March the team had dropped to 5th and it seemed the project I had built was very much on the decline. Athough they did get through their Champions League group, only to get thumped by Man City.
However, they did recover in the last couple of months and finished in a respectable second place. Lobo and Zivkovic finished with the top ratings in the league, Simpson kept a league-high 17 clean sheets and Zivkovic got the third-most assists. But scoring goals seemed to be the main problem, with Ahn finishing as top scorer with 13 in all competitions and striker Piscitella only managing 7 goals in 40 games. As a result, Zivkovic became the first Raith player ever to win the Football Writers’ Player of the Year and the Players’ Player of the Year.
The summer of 2030 saw Raith youth product and captain Dylan Tait finally depart the club for St Johnstone. He was seeking a new challenge and wouldn’t sign a new contract, so moved on for £1.8 million. Backup right winger Steve Jung also got a big move, for £8.5 million to champions Rangers. Another player leaving was star man Zivkovic, who had one year of his contract remaining, wouldn’t sign another and we negotiated a huge, potentially game changing club and national record sale of £60 million.
I built a new team, including finally signing Colin Rebello permanently, buying a better goalkeeper and a decent centre-back. And it was pretty much at this point that I decided to call it a day with Raith.
My 4,123 day reign at Raith Rovers ended with 305 wins from 529 matches, and a win percentage of 57%, drawing 104 and losing 120. My players scored 919 goals and conceded 543 at a goal difference of 376.
I won five cup competitions, five league titles and two promotions. To do that, I bought 86 players at a total value of £77 million and sold 108 for £208 million. My record signing was Colin Rebello for £19.5 million and record was the £60 million for Milan Zivkovic.
It’s been a blast, but let’s see how Raith fare without us we push further into the future.
I first simmed ahead one year to the end of 2030/31. I’d been replaced as manager by Steve Mandanda, who’d changed up my system slightly to a 4-2-3-1. And that suited Cranston very well, as he was Raith’s top scorer and assister with 16 goals and 20 assists from the AMC role.
Raith again finished second in the league, behind champions Rangers with Celtic third. And Celtic sacked Cristiano Ronaldo after just under two years in charge. However, Raith again won the League Cup and Scottish Cup.
I then simmed five years into the future, up to May 2036 to see if the Scottish football landscape had changed. And it kind of had. Raith won one more title, but Celtic re-took control of Scotland by winning the next four, with Rangers climbing back above Raith in the final three seasons.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Roth Raivers save, because I’ve loved playing it! And I’d love it if you stuck with the FM Addict blog for my FM21 content.