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Darren: FM 2011 Brighton’s dramatic end of season report 2011/12

Hey guys and welcome back to my FM 2011 Brighton story. My last post featured some shocking form as the Seasiders topped the Npower Championship by 5 points. After such an incredible start we were bound to hit a rough patch sooner or later, but the big question remained, could we hold out for promotion? Well today you will find out, we’ll start with my change of expectations and the January transfer window before moving straight onto my league results. I will not talk about my FA Cup run as this competition was used to rest key stars and as a result we endured an early exit.

As you may remember, I signed two or three players that included the ‘match highest earner’ clause this pre-season. A genuine mistake as opposed to a ploy for better players. Well I decided to make a bold move and correct one of these mistakes in January. My advanced playmaker, Hadouir, was offered to clubs for £2 million, a rather ambitious amount and I ended up settling for Brondby’s £1.3 million bid.

So I sold my best midfielder, but to be fair my midfield is well balanced and I had replacements lined up. Hadouir’s direct replacement will be Stevanovic, the CM is younger and of a similar ability. I also signed kladrubsky for his versatility, the 26 year old will most likely play in midfield but can also cover any role in defence. Both new signings were available on a free transfer and should come in handy for my promotion push.

Npower Championship results – did we gain promotion?

Brighton may have started the season well, but we had to maintain this form with sides like Birmingham and West Brom closing in. The whole of January went very well as I brushed aside Cardiff, Leicester, Norwich, Doncaster and Barnsley. McDermott and Soukouna were simply brilliant scoring six goals between them.

After continuing the great form, my confidence grew and this probably led to some sloppy mistakes as Brighton’s form started to slip. It all began with an away draw to Wigan, then a lucky home victory against Preston was followed by a terrible 1-0 loss t Colchester. West Brom were next and they proved too strong winning 3-2 before Middlesbrough held my boys 1-1. A massive result followed as we beat Nottm Forest 1-0, but this didn’t change the squads morale. Birmingham then beat us 3-2, followed by a below par draw to Ipswich and lucky victory against Hull. We did well to thrash Coventry 3-0 and held out for an away draw against Millwall. That draw to Millwall was secured by a wonderful long range shot form Noone (click here to see Noone’s goal.)

After playing Millwall the Championship table had levelled out somewhat. While it had become a three horse race for promotion the top two was still very much up for grabs and Brighton were on the descent.

1. Brighton – 89 points (42 games)

2. West Brom – 88 points (42 points)

3. Nottm Forest – 84 points (42 games)

4. Birmingham – 76 points (42 games)

With 4 games remaining I was still in control but needed to regain my form. We started against Sheffield United and despite some early pressure came through 1-0 victors, then a tough match away to Bristol City finished 1-1 thanks to a great Soukouna strike. Meanwhile West Brom won both their fixtures and Nottm Forest could only muster three points from their two matches.

Only two games remaining and considering my recent form the title seemed impossible, but promotion was almost guaranteed. West Brom took top spot and Nottm Forest had to find a miracle if they were to gain promotion. This on its own was a brilliant achievement.

1. West Brom – 94 points (44 games)

2. Brighton – 93 points (44 games)

3. Nottm Forest – 87 points (44 games)

Just two games to go and I needed one point to guarantee promotion whereas two victories would leave me relying on West Brom’s results to gain the title. Brighton’s penultimate match was against Derby, a great game that finished 3-0 thanks to super subs Brandy and Ambrose. This result guaranteed promotion but West Brom’s victory left me relying on luck for the title. Going into the final day we had Peterborough while West Brom travelled to Sheffield United. My boys fought valiantly and held out for a scrappy 1-0 win, a great finish but what happened at Bramall Lane…

West Brom took an early lead before Ched Evans equalised for Sheffield United, that was how it finished and the 1-1 draw meant Brighton would lift the NPower Championship!!! An incredible campaign and dramatic end to the season left me ecstatic and in disbelief. 99 points is one hell of a tally and despite being short staffed in defence we held the best back line in terms of goals conceded.

What a brilliant achievement, when the season started I was expecting a top 8 finish but certainly not the title. During the last post I said that my early form was down to a team performance and not one single player. Well by the seasons end this changed and a few players did seem to be the cause of my success. First of all we have centre back Sonko who scored 12 goals, then there’s left back Corrales who was solid all season long and assisted 10 goals despite taking no set pieces. Brandy did well with 15 goals but I was more impressed by Soukouna who scored 16 and assited 5. In midfield Vonlanthen was key with 13 goals and 8 assists while McDermott finally settled in scoring 12 goals and assisting 4.

I finished December with £1.8 million in the bank. But this figure was dramatically reduced come the seasons end. After giving my players more than £1 million in bonuses the bank balance dropped to more than £700K in the red. Not good at all and if you think that’s bad wait till you see what I have planned for my first pre-season in the EPL. Don’t worry though, I am not just looking for success at any cost…this debt is going somewhere and I have a long term plan. You have to speculate to accumulate and with the boards help I think Brighton can go a long, long way.

That is the end of my second season with Brighton, two years and two titles isn’t bad but I want to take Brighton far beyond this. Tune in next time for some monumental transfers…we’re talking wonderkids and great ones at that!! Until then thanks for reading and please feel free to ask any questions below, I look forward to your comments.

P.S. I am planning a live chat session similar to what Johnny hosted before his World Cup final. You can ask me questions or just drop by for some general Football related chit chat. This will be hosted on Saturday the 10th Spetember (this weekend) at 2pm GMT. I won’t put a limit on the session but will definitely be hosting for at least an hour. I thought it might be nice to offer you all somewhere to go before the EPL matches kick-off. There will be more details provided in a post later this week, but make space in your calender guys :)

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riggsy
riggsy
10 years ago

Well done Darren that is a fantastic achievement! I wasn’t to sure if you would finish top after I had seen your February and March results but you have a done great job and won the games that mattered! Well done mate :)

Laxeyman
Laxeyman
10 years ago

Brilliant stuff Darren, an amazing season, well done! You did fantastically well in the run in, and Sonko has been an inspired signing. Congrats mate and looking forward to your pre season :)

Jay
Jay
10 years ago

wicked stuff man, last gasp title win, well done :)

about this live session, any topic about the prem in particular to talk about? like is it just who we think will finish were in the season and normal footie talk, or is current afffairs like the recent news and what we think about it?

as usual great posts

Kevin
10 years ago

Great job Darren and a very exciting end to the season which you described brilliantly. That’s some achievement considering all those central defence worries early in the season. I’m sure you will have great success in the EPL also.
I should be around for the live chat as that is 9:00am for me.

Munyoki
Munyoki
10 years ago

Great stuff. Febian in my own game has scored 38 goals in 32 games so far this season for Crewe. In my experience with him, the better the players are around him, the better he gets. Try putting him as a poacher. you’ll be amazed!!

Birdy
Birdy
10 years ago

Very well done Darren and I can’t wait to see you play in the Premier League. It will be extremely hard but I get see you pushing through to win the league.

Birdy
Birdy
10 years ago
Reply to  Birdy

Not win but push through to stay up and then start to push higher and higher until brighton are a force to be reckoned with

Brennan
Brennan
10 years ago

oh wow, nice one!!! :) lets see how much transfer budget will u get after promotion, but you have a good eye for grabbing great freebies. i’ve just started a Southampton save, hope it’ll be a similar story to yours :D btw, which logo pack do u use? seems nice and simple. hate my shiny one…

Simon Boendermaker
Simon Boendermaker
10 years ago

Well done mate!

A thrilling conclusion to the season and a brilliant post to sum it all up. I think with this kind of form you can look at a decent finish next year, around the 15th place position. This story is definitely getting as good as the Newcastle one, almost the same level of dominance although it will be nice to see you struggle for once next year lol :P

Hopefully I make the live chat, depends on when my rugby practice finishes, but I’ll drop in when I’m around if I’m not there at the start. :D

Simon Boendermaker
Simon Boendermaker
10 years ago

Hmm, I appear to have logged in with facebook. Interesting…

Sibo373
Sibo373
10 years ago

Ah, found the password for my account on this site. That’s better.

Vineeth
Vineeth
10 years ago

Hey Darren,

Congratulations on getting back to back promotions! I thought it might take you a couple of seasons to get to the premiere league..good thing i was wrong :)

But the top flight is going to be difficult with this squad… gud luck with those wonder kids…you are gonna need a few… ;)

Johnny Karp
Johnny Karp
10 years ago

Brilliant season Darren, way to go! Kladrubsky is one of my all-time favourites in FM because of his versatility, he can be a solid backup for years! Looking forward to the transfers, I’m sure there will be a few gems in there :)

George Dobson
George Dobson
10 years ago

well done Darren its amazing what you and your team can do I think the live chat is a good idea im looking foward to seeing who you have brought in

Lye
Lye
10 years ago

Hi Darren,

What a close finish! West Brom really pushed you all the way. Congratulations on another straight promotion. It should be interesting to see who you will be bringing in next season as i believe there is still time for you to do another Newcastle in the Premiership. Looking forward to next season.

Ian T Evans
Ian T Evans
10 years ago

Nice one Darren, good effort getting out of the championship at the first attempt!
Are you planning on giving Brandy a good run in the EPL????

onecapwonder
onecapwonder
10 years ago

Awesome season, nice work. Can’t wait so see which wonderkids you brought in. Hopefully not too many of the great ones have been snaffled up. In my first season Man City and Barcelona seemed to have the same shopping list as me, and strangely Leicester isn’t quite as attractive as those two, footballers have no taste!

Also Leicester still in the Championship and finishing 20th? Has Sven got the sack? I’m playing as Leicester at the moment and you get a 400k wage budget and 6mil to spend in the first season on top of an excellent squad, not even Kevin Keegan could screw that up..

Rob Yeats
Rob Yeats
10 years ago

Congrats Darren, excellent work! Looking forward to seeing which wonderkids you get in.

Sears
10 years ago

Congrats on a wonderful Championship title. The form in the closing months was quiet rocky but well done on crossing the finishing line in 1st place … :)

Mikey
Mikey
10 years ago

Great job Darren…I just played my first 5 matches as I don’t have that much time recently but I lost the 1st at home to derby 1:0 a the rest I won so looking like a good start of the season. Good luck in PL.

Mikey
Mikey
10 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

Well…I hope so…don’t have much time now but will let you know.

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