Our time at AS Roma on Football Manager 23 began in a strange fashion, playing lots of away matches, banging loads of goals, getting a lot of injuries, not spending any money, but also losing two of our first five league games.
As mentioned in Part 1, we have a potential talent in the Under 18s by the name of Totti. And, as suspected, 16-year-old striker Cristian Totti is indeed the son of club legend Francesco. He only had 3-star potential but I was keen to find out if we could make something out of this youngster, so I popped him into the first-team with a view to giving him some game time off the bench.
We finally got to play our second home league game of the season as second-place Atalanta came to town, and gave the Roma fans a dominant performance to enjoy. Paulo Dybala got his first Roma goal after an injury and free-scoring Tammy Abraham missed a host of chances. So I replaced him with Totti. We immediately won a penalty, I gave it to Totti, and he smashed home his debut goal! And we won 3-0 after Chris Smalling’s first of the season.
We looked to be heading for our first draw of the season as we twice came from behind against Verona. But Andrea Belotti replaced the wasteful Abraham to nick a 95th-minute winner. And we finally did draw with a pretty awful 0-0 at home to Salernitana. That saw Abraham go four games without a goal after scoring 15 in seven but he got back to it with the only goal at our FM22 Beta club Sampdoria. Then he was wasteful again at home to Cremonese, so I brought on Totti and he scored his first goal from open play in a 3-1 win.
Abraham nudged us ahead at Fiorentina in first-half injury time. But Totti stole the show again with an absolute wondergoal, picking up the ball in the centre circle, dribbling all the way around the Fiorentina defence and curling a delicious effort into the far corner. The 16-year-old now has three goals in five substitute appearances! That took us to Milan, who’d won 10 out of 12 and made it 11 from 13 with an easy 2-0 win.
But we bounced back to win the final game before the Winter World Cup. A brilliant finish by the impressive Stephan El Shaarawy, who’s averaging 7.31 from 15 games, was flanked by Abraham and Belotti goals to down Torino 3-1.
That takes AS Roma into the top four, leading Inter by four points, only trailing second-place Juventus by three points, and six points back from leaders Milan after 13 games. While Abraham’s 15 goals have been surpassed by Immobile’s 16!
Europa League group continues
Yet another away match – which made it five out of seven to start the season! – took us to Iceland and two Abraham goals earned an easy 2-0 win. We (Abraham) missed a hatful of chances at home to Union Berlin and lost 1-0 before dominating Viking 3-0 at home with Nicoló Zaniolo, who along with Dybala I’ve really struggled to get a performance out of, scoring his first of the season.
That teed up a final group game decider at Sociedad with three teams having a chance of qualifying. The hosts led early but we fired back through Albanian centre-back Marash Kumbulla’s header. And a rotated side just about held on for a 1-1 draw, which saw all three of the top teams finish on 11 points with Viking on zero.
World Cup 2022
A winter break for the World Cup gave us a chance to shift our focus from domestic matters and see how what I’m pretty sure has to be the first-ever Football Manager World Cup with real, finalised groups played out.
One of the big shocks in the group stage was that hosts Qatar managed to win a match! They beat Ecuador 2-1 but lost 7-0 to Holland and 4-0 to Senegal. The biggest actual surprise was Brazil being knocked out of the group by Switzerland and Serbia. While England and USA knocked out Wales and Uruguay were eliminated by Ghana.
The second round saw USA cause an upset by beating Holland 2-1 and Argentina only beat Tunisia on penalties, while a big clash saw Spain beat Belgium 3-1. Then in the quarter-finals, Argentina beat USA 2-0 and Spain beat Switzerland 2-1, but the big games were England edging France 2-1 and Germany sneaking past Portugal 1-0.
That teed up two huge games, starting with John Stones’ 85th-minute goal helping England beat Germany 1-0 then Spain beat Argentina 2-0. So I bagged myself a ticket to Doha to watch England v Spain in the World Cup Final. The first half was dreadful and I was regretting my ludicrously expensive flutter on flights and a ticket, but Gareth Southgate brought Abraham on for Harry Kane at half-time. But I was appalled to see the idiotic manager switch to 3 at the back and deploy him as a centre-back! What was he thinking?! And Spain unsurprisingly took advantage to win an awful game 1-0.
Intriguingly, Dybala scored three goals in four games for Argentina, which is as many as he’ has’s man in 15 games for Roma!
Recruitment struggles early on FM23
I’m not sure if I’m just using recruitment wrong or if my scouts are terrible – or there’s a complete lack of good youngsters on the game. But I am really struggling to find anyone worth signing through the new recruitment system, which probably isn’t helped by Roma only allowing scouting in Europe and not letting me upgrade it yet.
I created several focuses looking for players aged under 21 in Italy and across Europe with minimum 4-star potential, yet the scouts keep telling me they can’t find anyone who meets my criteria. Although I also realise I haven’t set any specific positional focuses, so maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.
So I’m intrigued to know how you guys are getting on with the new recruitment system. Have you had any luck finding young starlets? And is there a particular approach or recruitment focus that’s brought you success? Let me know in the comments below!
And I’d also be keen to find out how you’re finding the new game generally?
I don’t see too much difference compared to FM22. The big thing I’ve noticed is the finishing feels a bit broken, despite them promising they’ve improved it. My players blaze so many chances over the bar – even when I instruct them to work the ball into the box. In fact, the Data Hub told me we had 29 long shots in five games and scored none – when I had ‘work the ball into the box’ turned on.
And the “new features” generally don’t feel like they’ve had that much of an impact. I’ve not looked at the squad planner since my first week at AS Roma and I’ve already mentioned my recruitment concerns. But if there’s anything I’m missing out on, let me now know in the comments!
Join us next time as we return from the winter break and look to secure our place in the Champions League places with AS Roma!