This marks the end of our Crazy Gang adventure. But you can also read the full story in ebook format!
Crazy Gang is the 7th edition of our Football Manager Stories series. It’s available now on the Kindle Store and via Amazon. The book is free if you have Kindle Unlimited and £2 if not
After nearly two decades of Football Manager 2022, Trebor Mahtal’s throwback 4-4-fucking2 style led AFC Wimbledon from League 1 mediocrity to six-time Champions of England and four-time Champions of Europe. The club is now firmly established as the best in the world so, with FM23 fast approaching, it seemed the right time to bring the save to a close.
But before we do that, I wanted to take a look back at the successes and some of the players that led AFC Wimbledon to glory.
The rise of the Crazy Gang
The Crazy Gang story began back in 2021/22 and a 5th-place finish after a strong conclusion to the season. But we fell to Sheffield Wednesday in the League 1 playoff semi-finals. We addressed that the next season by achieving automatic promotion, finishing 2nd to QPR in 2022/23.
We adapted well to life in the Championship, finishing 14th in our first season and 13th in the second. We improved to 7th the following season, just missing out on the playoffs, then reached the Premier League by finishing 2nd in 2026/27.
Our first Premier League season saw us narrowly avoid relegation in 17th place on 38 points, although we fell like a stone through the second half of the campaign. We improved rapidly from there, finishing 13th then 11th before a first top-half finish as we came 8th in 2030/31. The money started to flow in and we qualified for Europe for the first time by coming 5th in 2031/32 then 6th the following campaign.
That’s where things really kicked on as, largely thanks to the big teams underperforming, we claimed AFC Wimbledon’s first-ever league title in 2033/34 – nicking the league title on the final day. We finished 2nd to Liverpool the following season, but followed that with 5 successive titles between 2035/36 and 2039/40.
Amid all that, we lifted the club’s first domestic trophy by winning the Carabao Cup in 2035. But the FA Cup eluded us, reaching the final once and losing out to Liverpool in 2037.
But it wasn’t just domestically that we achieved success. We won the first major trophy in the club’s history by lifting the Europa League against FC Koln in 2033. But that was nothing compared to our success in the Champions League. We first reached the final in 2035, losing out to PSG, but went on to win four on the bounce from 2036/37 to 2039/40.
I finished the save as a one-club man who led AFC Wimbledon in 986 matches, winning 530, drawing 205 and losing 251 with a win percentage of 53%. We scored 1,770 goals and conceded 1,143 during my tenure. I topped the English ranking, finished 11th in Europe and 12th in the world and earned £23.5m throughout my career. We sold 182 players for £1.43 billion and signed 165 for a total of £1.04 billion, with a highest fee of £79m for right-back Javier Santamaría from Athletic Bilbao in 2035 and biggest sale of £191m when Harrison Fuller joined Real Madrid in 2038.
The Crazy Gang Legends
We’ve had some great players in our time at Plough Lane, but according to our all-time best 11, these were the pick of them:
GK – Andrés Araújo: Araújo was a gamechanger for the club, becoming our all-time record appearances holder before joining Real Madrid due to the arrival of the outstanding Julian. He made 416 appearances in all competitions and only conceded 327 in 331 league games.
RB – Javier Santamaría: Our all-time record signing played 228 games in all competitions but never scored despite a 7.25 average rating. Now 26, he’s probably the best right-back in the world.
CB – Daniel Pacheco: The 6ft 4in English centre-back has a phenomenal goalscoring record of 47 in 259, including 12 in 52 in 2037/38. He joined for £9m from Fulham in 2032 and has been an absolute rock in our defence.
CB – Diogo Augusto: The Brazilian is our answer to Virgil Van Dijk, he is absolutely dominant in the heart of the Crazy Gang defence. He struggled a little at first but developed into the best centre-back in the world over the last 2 seasons.
LB – Luciano Gonizález: Personally, I don’t agree with this choice as González was rarely a starter and hardly ever played at left-back. This position should certainly have gone to Theo Hernández, who led us to our first-ever title and came back to the club as under 18s coach after he retired. But an honourable mention has to go to Lee Brown for his contributions early in the save.
RM – Alan Kardec: Brazilian Kardec has an impressive goals record of 74 in 171, mostly from the right wing. It was a position we struggled in for a while, with the likes of Dan Grayson, Angelo and Diego Laínez filling it with varying success. And an honourable mention goes to Tyler Burey during the first 2 seasons.
CM – Gary Bazerque: Centre midfield has long been the most troublesome position in this formation, and the 2 best 11 selections highlight that. Bazerque was pretty solid for 6 seasons after signing from Ipswich with 9 goals in 243 games, but he was the ball-winner so we never expected any fireworks. Additional mentions have to go to Youri Tielemans, who inspired us to great things at the end of his career, and Marco Verratti, who was a great role model to some of our young players back in the day.
CM – Leonel Tus: It was certainly a surprise to see Tus retain his place, but he was pretty impressive after signing in our first season in the Premier League in 2027. He stayed with us to lead us to our first title in 2034 before moving on to River Plate.
LM – Valentin Schumann-Blaschke: There was no contest for this position, with the exceptional VSB an absolute shoo-in. He just surpassed Araújo as the all-time record appearances holder, scoring 58 and getting 170 assists in 427 matches and 41 goals and 116 assists in 348 league games since joining from Hamburg for £1.2m in 2029.
CF – Eli: There was even less contest for the striker positions, led by the exceptional Eli. Still only 26, the striker is our all-time record scorer with 262 goals in 345 games in all competitions and a brilliant 205 in 256 league games. He’s won 4 Ballon d’Or in a row, making him easily the best player in the world and probably the best bargain in football history considering he cost just £13.5m from Santos in 2031.
CF – Rodolfo Díaz: Uruguayan Díaz has a slightly less impressive goalscoring record of 172 in 407 games, but his contribution cannot be underestimated. He joined for just £1.4m in 2030, was our vice-captain for several years and led by example, not dropping below a 7.28 average rating after 2033. And his goalscoring efforts aren’t bad considering he had 7 finishing when he arrived at the club.
GK – Filip Stankovic: The former Inter player signed when we were in the Championship in 2024 and led us into the Premier League, making 203 appearances before being replaced by Araújo.
CB – Gian Guerrero: The centre-back impressed for a few seasons before being sold to our feeder club Real Madrid for £27.5m in 2034, then joining PSG for £32.5m.
LM – Alphonso Cadogan: Cadogan was the greatest youth product to come through the AFC Wimbledon academy. He came through in 2023 and became our then record appearances holder with 345 games before. He helped us lift our first league title then joined Hoffenheim for £13 million, and he’s played well for them over the last 7 seasons.
CM – Filippo Trippi: Trippi was a key player in the early years, signing on a free transfer from Roma in 2022 and making 211 appearances before moving to Millwall 5 years later.
CF – Daniel Jebbison: Jebbison was the real hero of our early years, scoring a then club record 114 goals in 212 in all competitions and 103 in 195 league games during 5 loan spells from Sheff United. He formed a deadly partnership with Spurs loanee Jamie Donley, who’s just retired from football after spells at Man City, Leeds and Burnley.
RB – Luca Stanga: Stanga is right up there as one of our best signings, coming in for free from Milan and usurping Cadogan’s record as he made 221 appearances for the club. He moved on to Villa before spells at Norwich, Empoli and Bristol City, where he retired aged 35 in 2038.
CF – Chris Passant: Youth academy product Passant came through in 2024 and became our captain as we established ourselves as a Premier League side. He was never prolific, but was always a good creative foil to our more freescoring strikers. He joined Valencia for £8.75m in 2033, came back to England with Wolves for 2 seasons, and just had a successful campaign with Mallorca.
The Crazy Gang adventure began as an experiment to see how 4-4-2 with an old-school approach of direct and dirty football would fare in the modern day. It’s safe to say it went a lot better than expected and I didn’t think we’d get anywhere near 20 years into the save, let alone actually win any titles!
But I guess it goes to show that pretty much anything is possible in Football Manager, with the right approach and a good transfer policy.
That concludes the Crazy Gang series, so thank you for reading! We’ll be closing out FM22 with the conclusion to our ongoing Aventuras Américas save and we’ll have announcements on our plans for FM23 shortly.