Back to my Football Manager 12 save. I’m managing Exeter City and we’re picking up on January 9th 2016. We’re currently 4th in the Championship, having played 25 (W14, D4, L7), scored 55, conceded 35 and have 46 points in the bag. The team line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The line-up is Metodi Spasov (GK), Catalin Rentea (RB), Gennaro Riccardi (LB), Sean Morrison (CB), Jagos Vukovic (CB), Jay Spearing (CM), Bradley Johnson (CM), Jonny Hayes (AMR), Michel (AMC), Dacian Varga (AML) and Michele Marconi (ST).
My first game following almost a year away from the save sees us travel to the American Express Community Stadium to take on eighth-placed Brighton and Hove Albion. We’re 4/1 underdogs and Jay Spearing makes his 125th career league appearance. The first action of note sees Celeban pick up a booking for fouling Marconi in the 12th minute. The first chance of note goes Brighton’s way in the 23rd minute when Cohen heads a cross from the right wing against the bar from 10 yards out. Our first chance of note is in the 36th minute when Bradley Johnson takes a free kick from 20 yards out, but it’s straight at the keeper. A minute before half time, Michel plays in Dacian Varga who slots the ball past the keeper. Varga runs away to celebrate, but it’s short-lived as the linesman has his flag up; Varga was offside by millimetres. In the 58th minute, Michel plays another great ball, but a defender slides in and gets to the ball just ahead of Michele Marconi. Brighton hit the bar again in the 59th minute when Lalkovic blasts a ball against it from 10 yards. Brighton also pick up a second booking in the 64th minute as Reid fouls Marconi. Two minutes after Reid’s booking, Varga crosses from the left, but Marconi’s shot is blocked. Our first booking comes in the 70th minute when Sean Morrison fouls Lalkovic. In truth, Morrison is lucky it’s only yellow as Lalkovic had picked up a through ball and was bearing down on goal. Brighton’s third booking comes in the 81st minute when Palankov fouls Marconi and their fourth is a minute later Varga is brought down be Celeban, who takes a long, lonely walk down the tunnel as it’s his second. Michel comes close to making the extra man count in the 83rd minute when he shoots from 20 yards, but the keeper tips it over. The 86th minute sees a goal when Palenkov breaks upfield and shoots; Spasov can only parry and Palenkov picks up the rebound and rolls it into an empty net from 6 yards to the delight of the majority of the 16,925 in attendance. Palankov picks up the man of the match award for his game-winning goal and a rating of 7.8. The result sees us fall to 5th in the league.
As it’s January, it’s a busy time in the transfer market. I allow Bartosz Lukasik to join Bristol Rovers on loan for 3 months, whilst Allen Ababio extends his loan spell at Coventry City by 3 months. I bring in a player on a free transfer, Valentin Mitov:
As with most of my signings, he’s one for the future. Metodi Spasov was unhappy at not playing (depsite his recent run) and wants his contract to be terminated for £55,000, which I reject. MK Dons put in a loan offer for Busao, which I accept and he joins them for three months. Mario Berrios, a Honduran goalkeeper joins us for a week’s trial and at the same time, I receive an offer for the unhappy Spasov – Real Sociedad offer £550,000, 20% of the profit from the next sale and a friendly. With Spasov being valued at over £800,000, I reject it – I don’t want an unhappy player, but I’m not letting him go cheap. Sestao had offered to loan David Goikoetxea that I had accepted, but he doesn’t fancy joining them. Will Keane had been out for 4 weeks with strained ankle ligaments, but he resumes full training. Although Keane returns, Roberto Carlos Gutierrez Ramos strains his groin in training and will be out for around 3 weeks, whilst Aiman Mustafa (on loan from Derby County) sprains his ankle in 2-1 Reserve team victory over Brighton and Hove Albion and will be out for 5-7 weeks. League 1 Bournemouth make an offer for Modeste M’bami – £2,000 upfront and £8,000 over 24 months. His contract is expiring at the end of the season and he’s not really in my first team plans, so I accept the offer. Our seemingly ongoing saga with Brighton sees them worried that they might lose Tony Mowbray at the end of the season and I get mentioned as a possible replacement, but Steve Bruce is the favourite if he does go. Five more players join on trial – Brazilian striker Adriano, Salvadoran attacking midfielder/striker Roberto Flores, Brazilian defender Alessandro, Brazilian attacking midfielder/striker Guilherme and Brazilian defender Andre. Toni Silva, currently at QPR, makes a media announcement that he wants to leave them and pleads for me to sign him. Toni Silva isn’t the only unhappy player as Manuel Galavin comes to me unhappy about the amount of first team football he’s been getting. Barnsley make an offer to loan Will Keane until the end of the season and I accept their offer and I also accept Sestao’s renewed loan offer for David Goikoetxea. More triallists join: Trinidad and Tobagonian keeper David Charles, Italian defender/midfielder Giovanni Nadiani, Slovakian midfielder Valdimir Kral, Slovakian attacking midfielder Frantisek Kubik, Trinidad and Tobagoian attacking midfielder/striker Anthony Reyes, Brazilian defender Clayton and Scottish midfielder Connor Rennie. Promising young Italian attacking midfielder/striker Niccolo Marchi signs a contract extension to 2020. Blackburn’s Martin Stach takes a leaf out of Toni Silva’s book in telling the media that he wants to leave them and be signed by me. Modeste M’bami joins Bournemouth and Daniel Berger is the subject of a £625,000 and 25% of profit from the next sale from Southampton – I’ve high hopes for him, so I reject it.