We asked Iain Macintosh to manage Newcastle United at Football Manager 2022 and it went really well for a while and then he fell out of all the trophies. But he seems okay now. energetic. Ready for action. Let’s see how long that lasts.
Episode 1 (with links to episodes 1-10)
Episode 11 (with links to episodes 11-20)
Episode 21 (with links to episodes 21-30)
Episode 31 (with links to episodes 31-40)
Episode 41 (with links to episodes 41-50)
“Well, Bouldy,” I say, pouring the tea, “that’s the end of another exciting transfer window.”
“I wonder if we’ll ever have a quiet one,” he muses.
“Fuck not,” I laugh. “I never stop looking for ways to improve this team.”
“And rightly so,” says Bouldy. “But I will miss some of the guys who have gone. You have all played your part over the past three years. Except for Wilfried Zaha, of course. He was crap.”
“Yes,” I say. “But you can’t win them all and at least we got £2.5m from Rangers and took £100,000 a week out of the payroll budget.”
“It wasn’t the only decent little deal,” he says. “Wolves spent £4.3m on Ben Gibson and £1.1m on Shaun Mavididi, that was a neat deal.”
“Well, that makes up for Sven Botman,” I say, leaning in to take a sip of tea. “But he was in the last year of his contract so I guess we have to be thankful we got £11.25m for him. I wish it had worked out for the boy, but it turns out he just wasn’t very good at football.”
“Borna Sosa was very good at soccer,” Bouldy says as he opens a packet of Hobnobs. “It’s just a shame he was such a whiny little pain in our ass.”
“I don’t have time for whiners,” I say. “That’s what I said to Amanda last week when I was complaining about the transfer budget. Sosa was good but I’ll take the £13.5m and let Aston Villa look after him. I think we could have gotten more but he poisoned the dressing room so it’s best to keep him going.
“I think I’m going to miss Sergino Dest the most,” says Bouldy. “And I know the guys in the physio room are very excited about that. He was her frequent flier. But times are changing, he never quite became the player we thought he was. We got three decent years out of him and selling him to Shakhtar for £40m means a £5m profit for him.”
“And also a £17million win at Noussair Mazraoui. But that made us a bit tight with the full-backs. And now we had some money to spend…”
“Joao Cancelo may only have two or three seasons in the top left, but he’s a quality player and can cover left and right defence. For £28m, that’s decent value.”
“Wilfried Singo could just be the right-back that Dest wasn’t. He’s fast, he’s goal oriented and just loves to get to the front whenever possible. I think the fans will love him and I think £32m is quite a bargain.”
“However, this is the one they will really love. Nicolo Barella, the ultimate midfielder. He cost £89m but he can do anything, he can play anywhere, he can run all day and he’s in the prime of his career. Don’t get me wrong Bouldy, I still love Sean Longstaff but this guy is going to bring us trophies.”
“And in case he does get injured we’ve spent £40m on Ivan Ilic, another excellent all-rounder with no real weaknesses. He’s a Serbia international and I think we can improve on him here.”
“After that it was just a matter of filling in the gaps. And for just £6million, Ainsley Maitland-Niles can fill a lot of voids. I was a little concerned when I only found out at the press conference that he has an ongoing feud with Kieran Tierney, but they both need to grow up and move on.”
“Jarrad Branthwaite might be a red card but I think he can develop here and at £7m he’s a good option as a fourth-choice centre-back. I really didn’t feel like going through the season with only three options, so that makes more sense than it first seems.”
“And finally we needed a third goalkeeper after Fraser Forster retired, so someone here is as solid as a rock. It’s £1.6million Alex Smithies who will almost certainly never play a game unless Ugurcan Cakir gets injured. But if Ugurcan Cakir gets hurt, we’re all in trouble.
Bouldy looks happy. He nods heartily.
“And that’s a solid looking 25-man squad, Iain. Coverage in every department. Eight Englishmen and one Scot, so we will meet the UEFA regulations well too.”
Nicolo Barella – Inter (£89m)
Ivan Ilic – Inter (£40m)
Wilfried Singo – Benfica (£32m)
Joao Cancelo – Manchester City (£28m)
Jarrad Branthwaite – Everton (£7.5m)
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Atalanta (£6m)
Alex Smithies – Cardiff (£1.2m)
TOTAL – £199m
Sergino Dest – Shakhtar (£40m)
Noussair Mazraoui – Benfica (£40m)
Borna Sosa – Aston Villa (£13.5m)
Sven Botman – Olympiakos (£11.25m)
Ben Gibson – Wolves (£4.3m)
Wilfried Zaha – Rangers (£2.5m)
Shaun Mavididi – Wolves (£1.1m)
TOTAL – £110m
“And let’s take a moment to enjoy the new tactics,” I say, walking to the whiteboard. “We will play versatile this year and we have the players for it. Two nearly identical plans, one inclined to the left, one to the right. So if we’re feeling stuck, we can just quickly shift focus without forcing players to do anything crazy like: There are nice combinations of attacking full-backs and turned wingers, Jools Weigl as a deep playmaker with a license to push, a more offensive role for the striker and a higher pace everywhere. And to get close wins, we’re going to stick with the throttle back plan that secured us fourth place on the last day of the season.”
Fast forward to the eve of the season and the signs are promising. The new tactic took us to friendly victories over Celtic, Rangers, Leicester, Leeds and the South Shields side which I’m promoting up to the Football League as talent doping by lending them my best youngsters. We’re going to Southampton for our first game of the season and as a departure from the norm… I’m actually feeling pretty good this season.
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