Hi folks and welcome back to my Football Manager 2011 Newcastle story. First of all let me apologize for the lack of posts this week. Everything has been a bit crazy and my spare time has gone into other areas of the site. Despite a major lack of game time midweek, I ploughed through the rest of my Newcastle season yesterday. Anyway, lets get back to the story and see how my boys finished the fourth season. You may remember some fantastic form during the last post Newcastle Almost Unbeaten Until the End of February. Newcastle broke records with our 48 game unbeaten run in all competitions and 24 game winning streak in the League. After winning the Club World Championships and all but wrapping up the Premiership, we lost in the FA Cup to Sheffield Utd. This was a major shock and had the potential to derail my campaign. Well, the first game of March and this post was a huge one. We had to forget the bad result, as a visit to Wembley was around the corner in the League Cup final against Manchester City.
League Cup final – Newcastle vs Manchester City
After fighting our way through a tough draw, we now had to beat the riches of City in order to lift our third consecutive League Cup. Along the way I have seen my boys beat Liverpool away and Manchester United at home, but this would be a very different match. Flores has got his team playing some nice Football, with signings like Eden Hazard Man City are second in the Premiership and still in all competitions including the Champions League.
I decided to use my normal approach with a 4-5-1 and standard strategy. You can view my tactic here. My talisman Paloschi started as the lone front man, while the deadly duo of Gaitan and Wilshere ripped it up on the wings. This match was a real stunner and full of goals. I really recommend watching the highlights below.
This match had everything, great goals, red cards, last minute fight backs and some beautiful Football. When I saw Hazard twisting and turning before setting Tevez up for the first goal, I thought City might break their duck against me. Then a great piece of vision from Inler led to Gaitan’s equalizer before Afellay scored a screamer. The final seemed over to me, but a bad tackle in the box meant Man City could draw level and set up a nail biting second half. I brought on Sanogo, Verratti and Dudu for extra time…the super subs linked up very late on. Dudu passed to Sanogo, who was taken out in the penalty area, then Varratti stepped up to win the trophy with the last kick of the game. Probably the most nervous final I have watched and it ended with a big smile on my face.
The fans were delighted to see us win the League Cup and to do it three times on a row is something special. Our record in this competition is summed up by the eighteen game unbeaten run that stretches over three seasons.
Premier League results and end of season table
The Premier League has become my stomping ground recently and an unbeaten run has seen Newcastle all but win the trophy. With another piece of silverware almost attained, I had to find some motivation during our last 11 games. After checking the League table I noticed we were still unbeaten, so that right there was to be my aim. Go the whole season unbeaten and smash my record breaking points total from last year. There was two matches that almost ruined the run, both were away from home. Birmingham looked very dangerous, but I managed to hold out for a 0-0 draw, while Manchester City wanted revenge but were denied as the game finished 2-2. Other than that it was all quite straight forward. Some great results came in along the way, including victories away to Chelsea, at home to Arsenal and away to Liverpool.
A great seasons end helped me reach the dizzy heights of 108 points and a 26 point gap from Man City in second. I’ve never experience such domination in the League before but will soak it up while I can. We also managed to go the whole season unbeaten, winning 35 games and drawing 3.
This years Premier League crown makes it three in a row. Another wonderful achievement and that has probably made this game one of my best ever on FM. The only shock of the season came in the form of Chelsea missing out on the Champions League again. The London side invested heavily this season and in my opinion have a wonderful side. It just goes to show that the best players in the world get you no where without a good manager and the right blend of personalities and tactics. If you want to know how I go unbeaten in the League, read my ‘How I Beat Every Club in the Premier League’ post.
It will come as no surprise that I won the Manager of the Year award again. I have held this honour every season since taking over at Newcastle.
Take note of who came second in these awards, that’s right Michael Owen has taken up management and guided Bolton to a 10th place finish during his first season.
The fact that I only conceded 16 goals this year led to three defenders and my goalkeeper making the Team of the Season. Afellay also made the cut thanks to a record breaking amount of assists. Well that is all for the Premier League, so lets move swiftly onto the Champions League.
Champions League results
I had a lot to live up to after last seasons success in this competition. The First Knockout round started well as my boys beat Roma 3-2 away from home. Filled with confidence my side then pushed their luck in the home leg but still qualified on away goals after a 2-1 loss. The quarter-final draw was very kind and pitted Newcastle with Lyon. An outstanding first leg performance and five goals from Paloschi led to a 6-0 victory. The second leg wasn’t as good but the 3-1 loss still meant we qualified for the Semi’s in style 7-3. Bayern awaited my side in the semi-final, they had beaten Manchester City. If form is anything to go by, I was looking good here after beating Bayern in both the Europa League and Champions League during previous seasons. After winning the first leg 2-0, we then lost the second leg away from home 3-2. The 4-3 aggregate victory booked our place in the final for a second year running. Manchester United beat Real Madrid in the other semi-final and were to be my opponents for the big day.
Champions League final – Newcastle vs Manchester United
During the pre-match meeting, I was advised to use a 4-4-1-1. I have heard this before while playing Man Utd, but always stick by my 4-5-1. I decided to do the same again with a standard strategy. This game was going to be tough as United has Wayne Rooney scoring for fun. Their form was very good and since Phelan took the managers position from Sir Alex Fergusan he has made a solid back four. This match would probably come down to luck, so keep your fingers crossed while watching the highlights.
This match was very even and in the end an in form Wayne Rooney was the difference. My side never looked like winning and played very poorly. We struggled to break through United’s back four and paid for one piece of sloppy defending. I’m a little disappointed really, you need to take these opportunities as it doesn’t matter how good your side is, its very tough to make the Champions League final.
Well you can’t win em’ all but you can certainly try!! Lets take a look at the heroes from another fantastic season. My defence was solid in the League and Musacchio even helped out with 12 goals, his average rating of 7.45 was well deserved. Afellay was my most outstanding player with an incredible 29 assists, he walked his way to the top assists in the League. Paloschi scored for fun again this season with 32 goals, but Sanogo is proving to be a worthy understudy with 27 goals.
This will be my last post with Newcastle for a while, I am definitely coming back to this game, but just want to focus on the ‘Ultimate European Challenge Story’ for a bit. Therefore I thought it would be nice to share some of my better players with you. Below is my best signing, best cheap signing, most influential player and potential superstar. I am showing you their current attributes and League stats so far.
Best signing – Alberto Palsochi, ST
Best cheap signing – Vincent Enyeama, GK
Most influential player – Ibrahim Afellay, CM
Potential superstar – Yaya Sanogo, ST
Well that concludes my fourth season with Newcastle. I will be taking a little break from this story, but plan to come back to it. From now on I want to focus on my Ultimate European Challenge story. Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.