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Darren: FM 2011 Brighton returns to the fans, pre-season 2014/15

Hey guys and welcome back to my Brighton & Hove Albion story. We finished last season by winning the Premier League crown on goal difference and securing the FA Cup after beating Tottenham 2-0. 2014 was the best year in Brighton’s history, but was just the start of what I wanted to achieve. Domestic domination and challenging Europe is my aim, but we’ve got some way to go. I spent the first few weeks of pre-season considering my transfer options and what I needed to change…then, just before the budgets were announced I received this message.

Despite putting Brighton in their strongest position financially while winning trophies and qualifying for the Champions League my boss packed up and sold the club. A weird decision but I started to dream of massive budgets and endless streams of cash, that was when I thought ‘how can thousands of fans fund my ambitions when they struggle to afford a season ticket?’

Well despite been in our strongest ever position financially and also having the riches of Europe to look forward to, my new owners offered a rather ‘cheap’ budget’. Just £20 million to spend, while the last two seasons saw me amassing a budget of £35 million. I was also desperately disappointed by the wage budget which was increased by just £45K per week.

Due to this rather disappointing budget I had to offload some players, and this is where I got incredibly pissed off! I started by purchasing one player which dragged my bank balance just into the red. As a result my board changed the ‘% of transfer revenue made available’ from 100% to 10%. Now this was despite me already agreeing to sell Aissati for £13.75 million, the only reason I agreed to sell Aissati is because I thought the full amount would be available to reinvest. However, when the deal actually went through the revenue I received back changed and instead of getting the full £13.75 million I just received £1.37 million. This obviously screwed me as I needed to bring in a world class playmaker and had lost out on £12 million to spend. I also offloaded more players but with the new % of revenue been given back to me it was a waste of time. All in all the club raked in £22 million of which I saw around £5 million…can you tell I’m bitter! ;)

Well you already know my thoughts towards the new board, I’m sure it all sounds dramatic but my job was so much easier with the previous owner…now I have to do tonnes of calculating and planning ahead to avoid such surprises as the Aissati fiasco! Anyway, enough moaning for now as it’s time to reveal my new signings.

Jack Robinson (left full back) – £9.5 million from Liverpool

This position gave me a headache, I wanted someone faster and more developed but couldn’t find a better player under the age of 28 available for less than £17 million. While Robinson lacks the quickness he will develop enough within the next few seasons.

Lorenzo Crisetig (central midfield) – £750K from Barcelona

Last season went well, but I felt like my European adventure finished prematurely because of poor strength in depth. I found Crisetig available on the transfer list and will try to nurture him into our new ball winning midfielder.

Sulley Muntari (central midfield) – Free transfer

Muntari was a last minute purchase, I found the CM after searching for players with a tackling attribute of 17. The 29 year old should be a good backup and fill in against the easier opponents.

Axel Witsel (central midfield) – £10.75 million from Zenit

I did actually have much higher profile targets than Witsel, but due to my board adjusting the goal posts I had to adjust my targets to replace Aissati. Axel Witsel was the best talent available within my new price range and I think £10.75 million is a snap. Axel will move ahead of Granero as my best playmaker.

Bebe (right winger) – £1.9 million from Manchester Utd

Bebe was a late signing, only brought in when I noticed him on the transfer list and wanted to strengthen further on the right flank. Bebe hasn’t featured at United for more than 3 seasons and hasn’t improved as a result. I reckon I can get more from this kid and still believe he has a lot of improving to do.

Vaclav Kadlec (striker) – £4 million from Manchester Utd

I decided Soukouna’s time was up and that he couldn’t serve my side any longer. The first place I looked for a backup striker was the transfer list and saw Kadlec available at £4 million. This was an opportunity not to be missed and my only problem will be splitting game time between three quality forwards.

So despite the board allocating £20 million for transfers, I only managed to spend a net value of £5 million. The new signings totalled £27 million but I sold players to a value of £22 million. The sale of Aissati still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, I needed the £13.75 million to reinvest but the boards decision to keep most of the cash messed with my plans and led to a rather disappointing window in my opinion.

The squad below does look better than last season, but I am not too happy and feel like Brighton haven’t moved forward in terms of quality. We certainly have more potential and depth, but potential isn’t going to help us in Europe.

Community Shield vs Manchester United

After the usual friendly matches I had to play in Brighton’s first ever Community Shield. I fielded my strongest eleven from last season with the additions of Robinson in defence and Witsel in midfield. Man United used a strong squad but did include two or three youngsters. Despite conceding an early goal care of Wayne Rooney, Leonel Galeano made a quick reply. With the score level at 1-1 my boys took control but couldn’t capitalise on our possession as the game went to penalties.

The penalty shoot-out was very cruel. We kept going until my keeper, Joe Lewis, missed and United’s Asenjo scored. In fact I was so prepared for this that I took a screenshot as soon as the United keeper finished his run up.

After a very productive transfer window for the clubs owners (not me!) Our bank balance reads £1.5 million and I expect this figure to increase with every month that passes.

Well that is all for today, I hope you enjoyed my pre-season and will be back to see how Brighton start the new season and Champions League football. Until next time please feel free to ask any questions and I look forward to your comments as always. Please also vote for who I’ll manage in FM 2012 below.

Darren Smith: "Which team should I be managing in FM 2012?" Final poll

  • Malaga (SPA) (35%, 134 Votes)
  • Norwich (EPL) (32%, 124 Votes)
  • PSG (FRA) (17%, 67 Votes)
  • QPR (EPL) (15%, 58 Votes)

Total Voters: 383

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  1. David Wiggins

    September 28, 2011 at 10:50

    your chairman is Stu Pugh?! That amused me :) Shame he appears to be a bit of an a-hole!

    • Ryan N

      September 29, 2011 at 13:13

      Hey, you should try supporting Blackpool, our chairman has been like that for over 15 years now, eg. we sold Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell and David Vaughan for a combined £11mil, recieved £35mil for promotion last season, and four years of £16mil parachute payments, equals roughly around £90mil +, how much has our manager been allowed to spend so far??……….£500k.

      • Darren Smith

        September 29, 2011 at 19:14

        Yeah must admit the Blackpool owner does seem very stingy…well I personally support Newcastle so am used to crappy owners.

  2. Johnny Karp

    September 28, 2011 at 10:56

    I think that you did well considering the finances, most of the new players are full of potential and I think that is a good step forward for the club. Maybe you won’t win the Champions League this season but you can certainly build a team that could win it in the future.

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 18:06

      Thanks Johnny, I agree the new signings have potential but I was mainly annoyed with the boards approach. Having said that we’ll see how quickly the youngsters can improve and hopefully we can throw up a small surprise in Europe.

  3. Lye

    September 28, 2011 at 13:16

    Hi Darren,

    I share your frustration mate. Seems your new chairman is worse than Mike Ashley. It just make your job difficult. Despite that, you have made some good additions and hopefully you can defy all odds to win the champions league this season. Good luck.

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 18:10

      I don’t think anyone is worse than Mike Ashley to be honest :) But this new chairman knows how to piss me off thats for sure. I think the CL went after my sale of Aissati gained nothing but we’ll see how the season goes.

  4. George Dobson

    September 28, 2011 at 16:14

    Wel done Daren unfortunate about the new owner but your signings are still good and Im sure you can make them even better

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 18:11

      Thanks George, I hope you’re right and we don’t suffer too much.

  5. Laxeyman

    September 28, 2011 at 17:09

    Looks like the new board haven’t helped you one jot Darren, but you still brought in good players, particularly Robinson who could be your left back for at least 10 years. Hopefully, you can go further in the CL this year, good luck!

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 18:12

      Unfortunately the new board are very sneaky. I don’t mind been told to spend no more than £20 million, but then to take my part of a players sale away from me is just wrong. I needed the Aissati cash to reinvest and they really did screw me there…ow well I still have a great squad and do feel confident despite my moaning ;)

  6. onecapwonder

    September 28, 2011 at 17:43

    Well thats a bit of a kick in the teeth, intersting move from a load of fans who “care pasionatley” about their club, force out an owner whos sunk 100mil+ into the club and employed a manager whos just got them from League 1 to be EPL champions. Didn’t realise FM was so realistic, seems most fans are complete muppets in the game as well as real life…..

    The signings look pretty nice given your transfer budget, especially Robinson, if you can push his crossing and dribbling up a bit he’ll be a great attacking fullback in no time. Must say Bebe looks like a bit of a crock to me, his mental stats are pretty poor for someone who is 24, compare them to Crisetig at 21…

    Hows Berolucci looking stats wise? At 3*CA and 4.5*PA yet only 19 he could become a really great player.

    Bad luck with the charity shield, but hey its only a glorified friendly. Best of luck with the season, hopefully the board don’t have any more suprises, they seem like the type that would accept a £15mil offer for Torres as “too good to refuse”.

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 18:15

      lol, I agree with the first paragraph…FM was certainly realistic there!!

      While I agree with you on Bebe, I only got him as backup and believe his natural physical ability will play a part. Bertolucci is looking pretty impressive indeed…he has 15’s for most attributes and in the main areas 16-17.

  7. Dan

    September 28, 2011 at 18:06

    Board members pretending to be fans before screwing over the club, now where does that ring a bell?

    Unlucky in the Community Shield but no-one really cares about that too much. You’ve brought in some good signings and I’m fully expecting another great season as long as the board don’t throw in any more surprises!

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 18:19

      You must be talking about the Toon Dan. :) Certainly did leave a sour taste in my mouth. I just the lads can prove good enough on the pitch and if I ever get the percentage I receive back from players sold to a decent level we may see some tinkering.

  8. Martin - F.M.J.S

    September 28, 2011 at 19:20

    I feel your frustration with the board but you have got some good signing, i particularly like the signing of Axel Witsel, as i think you can play him down the right wing as well as central midfield. Unlucky with the Community Shield but good luck with the rest of the season.

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 20:43

      Thanks Martin, the board have been very frustrating but like you said we weren’t too bad in the market. I was just gutted to miss some of my big signings because of a technicality. Hopefully the new players can fit in quickly and we can add more come January.


    September 28, 2011 at 19:48

    So frustrating for that to happen, but your squad looks good. Congrats on winning the title last season by the way, hadn’t read that post cos we’ve only just finally got internet connection back this week, but I will certainly be following from now on as regularly as possible.

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 20:44

      Thanks MRDNRA, it was frustrating but we’ll see how the season goes and hopefully add more players soon. Hope you have a permanent internet connection now. :)

  10. MDTM

    September 28, 2011 at 20:29

    Hey Darren,

    Sounds like the new board is not going to offer you any favours in the future, hopefully a few more trophies in the cabinet will sort them out! Good transfers considering the circumstances and all the best for you new season! Pity about the Man U game, penalties always leave a sour taste in my mouth:/ Good Luck!

    • Darren Smith

      September 28, 2011 at 20:45

      Yeah the board do seem a little awkward, but maybe I can negotiate some sensible transfers out to get the cash required to improve the squad if thats the case.

  11. Sears

    September 28, 2011 at 21:27

    The board will come good soon Darren. In FM10, when I managed Leeds, the fans bought the club and it was amazing. They were really supportive and we enjoyed great success. Anyways, fantastic signings mate, really hope you can retain your title and make your mark in Europe. Good luck :)

    • Darren Smith

      September 29, 2011 at 11:52

      Thanks Sears, hopefully you’re right and the board will come good. So far they’ve been nothing but awkward. I think they don’t want me messing with their own cash and will only be flexible when there’s more money in the bank.

  12. Kevin

    September 29, 2011 at 00:34

    Well what a screwed up Board you have landed up with!!
    This is a real shame considering what you have achieved with the club in such a short time. I do think Bebe is a great signing and Witsel should prove an invaluable talent for you. Best of luck for the new season ahead!

    • Darren Smith

      September 29, 2011 at 11:51

      Yeah the board do seem very awkward but we’ll see what happens. I was extremely pissed at the time because I know what could have been done with that reinvestment from Aissati’s sale, I just hope they change soon.

  13. Martin

    September 29, 2011 at 08:43

    Wow the new board seem to be w*****s tbh lol, but you have managed to being in some quality players to add to the existing players. You’ve achieved so much with Brighton in a short space of time….AMAZING! Keep up the good work and i’m looking forward to your 1st half of the season results :)

    • Darren Smith

      September 29, 2011 at 11:49

      Yeah we did OK under the circumstances but if the board keep this up my job will be very difficult. Hopefully the team possess enough quality to challenge in Europe.

  14. Paul Meeks

    September 29, 2011 at 15:23

    That’s interesting, it’s the first time I have seen a Supporters Trust mount a takeover in FM2011. It’s much like the Barca model so you may find in a few seasons time that you will start to reap the rewards, they probably just wanted to balance the books but that doesn’t help you this season!

    I always look forward to your well written stories Darren, keep up the good work :-)

    • Darren Smith

      September 29, 2011 at 19:12

      Yeah I too haven’t experienced such a takeover before. I’d love to see this work like Barcelona but we’ll have to see with the limited time I have left. Glad you are still enjoying the stories mate.

  15. vaibhavc

    September 30, 2011 at 05:52

    Hey Darren
    Your signings were fantastic, Kadlec, Witsel, and Muntari are all great players. Kadlec and Robinson can improve so much if you play them most games. Your board is so stupid. From 100% to 10%. You must have been annoyed as hell.

    • Darren Smith

      September 30, 2011 at 11:56

      Thanks mate, those signings are full of worldclass potential but I don’t them making a huge difference this season. We’ll see what happens.

  16. tom

    September 30, 2011 at 08:21

    Kadlec…such a gem of a signing and a steal at 4mill…i got him on my west ham game for 975k right at the start…he develops into such a great striker…scored nearly 200goals for my team in 5 seasons…

    Considering how stingy the board were you have worked wonders in the transfer window…witsel is a great buy…versatile too…

    Martin olsson at blackburn is a left back you should keep an eye on…great stats for a left back…and believe it or not…his stats support a poacher role aswell….only really lacking in creativity

    Keep up the good work!!!!

    • Darren Smith

      September 30, 2011 at 12:00

      I agree that Kadlec is a gem and he already looks good, we’ll see how quickly he settles but the competition upfront is unreal.

  17. Malhar Bhadbhade

    September 30, 2011 at 11:50

    hey Darren,
    all the best for your next season! i wanted to ask you about training schedules, specifically for regens. is it better to put them on the usual midfielders, forwards, defenders etc schedules, or is it better to tailor a training schedule just for them? and also, could you have a look at a couple of regens and tell me if i should put them on specialised training schedules?

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