FM Experiment | FM Retro 98/99 | Part 1: West Ham Wonderkids

Having just completed a Football Manager Experiment using a custom database in the European Super League, we were keen to take on another fantasy challenge in FM23. So the release of The Mad Scientist‘s annual retro database was very timely.

If you’re new to these databases, then this dedicated individual painstakingly recreates the entire footballing world of years gone by based on the real attributes from previous versions of Football Manager / Championship Manager. So all the same players, clubs, logos, badges, backroom staff, competition names, you name it. They’re all in the database.

This season, The Mad Scientist takes us back to 1998/99, the season in which Manchester United crowned the Sir Alex Ferguson era with a league, cup and Champions League treble. Elsewhere in 98/99, AC Milan won Serie A by one point from Lazio, Barcelona won La Liga by an impressive 11 points from Real Madrid, Bayern won Bundesliga 12 months on from Kaiserslautern winning the title, and Bordeaux were champions of France. And to do that, he borrowed the player attributes from Championship Manager 3.

We could spend hours poring over some of the absolute gems available in this database but, rather than bore you with an endless list of exciting players and squads, just go and download the database for yourself to check it out. We’ve dropped links to all the downloads you might need at the bottom of this article.

Instead of reminiscing over a young Ronaldinho at Gremio, Juan Roman Riquelme at Boca Juniors and Pablo Aimar and Javier Saviola at River Plate, let’s get into the database. Now, we don’t want to walk into one of these big teams or reigning champions. We want a challenge and to build an exciting young squad. And to do that, we’re heading to East London.

Whammers Wonderkids

Choosing a team in this database was hard work, so it’s likely we may run a few experiments with different teams over the next few months. I was really tempted by the likes of Leeds United, Fiorentina, Lazio, Parma, Real Betis, Wimbledon FC and more. But one of the teams that stood out as an exciting project was the wonderkids of West Ham United.

So out goes Harry Redknapp, and in comes giant 6ft 8in Zambian/Brazilian Trebor Mahtal bidding to lead West Ham to glory.

The West Ham squad is packed with hot prospects led by 20-year-old Frank Lampard, 19-year-old Rio Ferdinand and 16-year-old Joe Cole. There’s also the late, great Marc-Vivien Foé and future England international Trevor Sinclair, the mercurial Eyal Berkovic and the iconic Paulo di Canio. Down in the under-18s sits 16-year-old Michael Carrick, while there are some legendary figures in the squad like Ian Wright fresh from leaving Arsenal, Paul Kitson, who actually looks really good, Samassi Abou (he was awful) and the terrifying duo of Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock and Julian Dicks.

Strengthening The Hammers

We have to be a little bit careful about going mad and trying to sign all the legendary players possible. And, probably wisely, the West Ham board only gave Mahtal a £2m of transfer budget available.

Mahtal’s first move? Bringing in Diego Maradona on trial! But he was considered to be awful by the coaches despite some impressive technical and mental stats. So with Maradona departing the club, we targeted bargains starting with 6ft 5in Trinidadian striker Peter Prosper (who was amazing on the original game) for £500k, solid centre-back Mario Yepes for £750k and a certain Miroslav Klose for £50k, then loaned him back to Homburg. And that’s where the business finished as there was no more money available! But the lengthy shortlist looks pretty impressive and fairly ambitious…

So with minimal transfer activity in the first window, here’s how Mahtal was looking to line up. The team looks particularly weak at right-back and lacks depth throughout the squad. While playing Di Canio as a left-winger is… interesting…

First Season In Premier League 98/99

West Ham are fancied to finish firmly in mid-table. And to give you an idea of some of the top players in the Premier League and the makeup of the league in general, here are the key players considered for the top awards. Yep, David Ginola is a God on FM, apparently.

Mahtal’s managerial career began at home to Blackburn and Prosper scored twice on his debut to nick a 3-2 win. But a 2-0 loss at Man UFC unsurprisingly followed with goals by Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, in which Joe Cole became the youngest-ever West Ham player aged 16 years and 278 days. And the early away form was poor, losing at Chelsea – to goals by two absolute legends in Michael ‘Doooobs’ Duberry and Gianluca Vialli – and Derby.

But back on home turf, West Ham looked good. Prosper, Di Canio and Lampard led a 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday then a Di Canio penalty, Sinclair and Kitson led a 3-1 win over Newcastle. And that gave them the confidence to win two away games 1-0 at Middlesbrough thanks to Wright’s 89th-minute goal and Nottingham Forest with a Dicks screamer. Di Canio was doing surprisingly well, scoring alongside Prosper’s opener in a 2-1 win over Spurs. But Dicks got sent off against his old club Liverpool, who went on to 2-0 at “Upton Park” with a Steve McManaman double.

That saw West Ham sitting in a respectable 8th place after 10 games. Arsenal lead the way, scoring a ridiculous 31 goals in 10 games closely followed by Man UFC and Leeds, who have a very good team on this database. But only four points separate the top six, which includes Wimbledon!

Lower Spending In 98/99

Transfer values are much lower than those you’d be accustomed to in regular FM saves and spending in this database is significantly lower as a result. And seemingly, Man UFC are the only club with any money to start the game.

The biggest signing of the first window was Man UFC signing Simao Sabrosa from Sporting for £29.5m. Flavio Conceicao went to Barcelona for £19.75m and Mario Melchiot and Walter Samuel joined Man UFC for a combined £12m. Other interesting deals saw Jordi Cruijff, son of Johan, sign for Bolton from Man UFC, Blackburn sign Kieron Dyer for £.2m from Ipswich and Sami Hyypia move to Udinese for £750k.

Join us next time as we wrap up Season 1 in this FM Retro 98/99 database! And, of course, a reminder to go and download this amazing database by The Mad Scientist using the links below.

To load the database, either:

  • Subscribe to the database on Steam
  • Download the Save Game File into your ‘FM23 Games’ folder (this is what I did)

To get extra graphics for the database, download:

  • Logo Pack
  • Kit Pack
  • Face Pack (via a Patreon subscription)
  • Regen Mod (adds subsequent real-life players in as regens when you save it to: steamapps\common\Football Manager 2023\data\database\db\2300\edt\permanent)

And probably most importantly, follow The Mad Scientist on Facebook, Twitter, Patreon, Twitch and YouTube.


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