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Darren – FM 2011 Newcastle in a winter wonderland 11/12

Hey guys, welcome back to my Football Manager 2011 story with Newcastle. During the last post you saw my side rise up to third position in the BPL after a good August and September. With my new signings settling well I was ready to carry on the good form and state my claim to a top four spot. Today’s post will include my results from October, November and December. The results will be revealed in a month by month basis, featuring a performance of the month for all three. Lets get down to business and see how the toon got on.

October results

With October featuring three sticky away games I just wanted to try and come away unbeaten. The first game was a little unlucky as we drew 2-2, but only after conceding a very late goal. Then my side bounced back beating Middlesborough at home 3-0 and Steaua in the Europa League 2-0. We performed well when back in the league away to Everton but had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Then we faced Aston Villa in the League Cup, a very convincing performance lead to a comfortable 2-0 victory. This was a good omen for our next game away from home to the Villains in the Premier League. Jonas played brilliantly and his late goal proved vital as we ran out 1-0 winners. All in all a good month, especially after you look at our away games.

Performance of the month, Newcastle 3-0 Middlesborough

Paloschi seemed to be settling into his lone poacher role very well recently. Therefore I used my 4-5-1 formation with a standard strategy for this derby game. Gaitan thrives on been used as an inside forward from the left wing and his flair tends to cause a lot of trouble. Add to this Dudu’s scoring instincts from the right and we have a deadly trio. Let’s watch the match highlights.

The deadly trio were far too much for Boro to handle. Dudu proved his worth yet again, while Paloschi always looked like scoring. My favourite performance came from Gaitan though, his header to open the scoring was sublime. Like I said he just loves drifting inside and that makes him very tough to mark.

November results

A decent October had set me up well for November. However, Steaua sprung a surprise as they beat my side 1-0. After a shock defeat I was hoping for a big bounce back against fierce rivals Sunderland. This is exactly what I got, Paloschi scored a sensational hat trick and guided the toon to a 4-0 victory. Then we performed well at home to Bolton and comfortably won 2-0. The next two matches were to prove very vital indeed, the first was against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. My side took the lead in the first half through brilliant 30 yard strike by Joey Barton. Then Chelsea looked second best all match until they scored an injury time equaliser. The next match proved more fortunate, Man Utd were outclassed at Saint James Park. Paloschi’s instinctive finish provided a memorable 1-0 victory to cap off a wonderful few games. Then Sochaux were thrashed 3-0 as we secured our place in the Europa League first knockout round. This month had turned into a real battle cry for my side and left me with a lot of hope.

Performance of the month – Newcastle 1-0 Manchester Utd

With Man Utd flying high in the league and looking unstoppable, I needed to stop their momentum. The toon were just two points behind last years champions and could steel top spot with all three points. Let’s watch the match highlights.

This was one hell of a victory but would not have been possible without a solid defensive display. Danny Simpson looked like a right back on crack…there was no way anyone would get the better of him. The only goal of the game was well worked as well. Andy Carroll playing a perfectly weighted ball for Paloschi to do the rest. Hopefully Man Utd would start losing some momentum now.

December results

Two fantastic results against Chelsea and Manchester Utd had given my squad some much appreciated confidence. This came in handy as we beat Blackburn twice away from home in the League Cup and Premier League. Next up was Arsenal at home, a fixture I really struggled in last season. Well last season seemed ages ago as we won 2-0. The next six games were simply brilliant as my side became unstoppable and won them all. We had only conceded 3 goals in 9 games and accumulated 21 points over the 7 league games. By far my best run on FM 2011 had left me dreaming of the top four at least.

Performance of the month – Newcastle 2-0 Arsenal

My best formation for this game is always a 4-5-1 with counter strategy. Paloschi’s lethal finishing had earned him a regular place upfront as my poacher. With my other new boys Afellay, Gaitan and Dudu playing so well, my luck was bound to change in this fixture. Arsenal wouldn’t know what had hit them, so let’s watch the match highlights.

This was an excellent performance and my side still dominated despite Simpson’s sending off. Paloschi was simply brilliant and his second goal showed his technical and finishing ability. To lob the Goalkeeper from so far really did win us the game. After ending my bad run of results against Arsenal, I really feel like the Champions League is already on its way.

Premier League and Europa League tables

After an amazing run of form over the last three months, my side are top of the BPL. Manchester Utd have a game in hand but even with victory, Newcastle will be one point clear. The most important thing is that we have a massed a huge lead over fifth. I don’t think we’ll out last Man Utd, but we will probably challenge them for another month or so.

My Europa League group was won with ease. Even after using a weakened side in some of the fixtures, my boys still shone and finished top ahead of Sevilla by seven points. Hopefully the draw will be kind and leave me able to field a young side again.

There are more difficult opponents out there than Sporting Lisbon, but playing a weak side will probably see my side eliminated. With so many good sides still in the competition I may turn my attentions to the league.

Squad stats and January-March fixtures

Paloschi’s 16 goals from 17 starts have earned him the third best rating in the Premier League of 7.35, he’s also the top goalscorer. Steven Taylor remains my best performer so far and I am delighted he decided to sign a new contract during pre-season. Gaitan, Dudu and Afellay are all playing very well without standing head and shoulders above the rest. The most pleasing thing is that my worst performer has a rating of 6.95. Just goes to show how much strength in depth Newcastle now have with myself at the helm.

The next post will be done in very similar style to this one. I have a lot left to do and the fixture list could get congested depending on how far I go in the cup competitions. March could make or break any title hopes I still have with Chelsea and Man Utd back to back. We are set to try and reach the League Cup final over two legs against Birmingham, as well as the Europa League first knockout round against Sporting Lisbon. All in all it will be a long and tough second half to the season.

Well that is it for today guys, I hope you enjoyed the read and will be back to see if the toon retain top spot. Until then please feel free to ask any questions below and I look forward to reading your comments as always.

 

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Sears
11 years ago

What a fantastic few months Darren. Your new players have defiantly settled in well and Paloschi has been an amazing signing. All of your players have been performing well and if you continue your current form hopefully the Premier League will be in your trophy cabinet come the end of the season. Good luck!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Sears

Thanks Sears, we really are going like a steam train! If I can keep all my key stars fit I guess anything is possible.

GS Fan
GS Fan
11 years ago

Wow Darren!

Paloschi is a scoring machine!

Trophies anyone?

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  GS Fan

Thanks GS Fan, I always love your enthusiasm. We’re still going strong in all competitions so its a possibility I’ll bring home a trophy. Guess it all depends on injuries and luck of the draw now.

Laxeyman
Laxeyman
11 years ago

Great winter Darren, well done! Your side look like they can challenge all season for the league, and even win it, if Paloschi can keep firing in the goals. Your lead over 4th is massive, so it looks like you’re guaranteed a Champions League place at least. Good luck!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Laxeyman

Thanks Laxeyman, theres still a lot of work to do and the fixture list will get more congested with every round I pass in all comps. Lets just hope for a little luck and maybe I can bring home my first bit of silverware. Like you said, at least champs league is guaranteed :)

warren
11 years ago

Hi Darren

Glad to see that your finally able to bring back some good memories for Newcastle fans and 16 points between yourself and 4th place shows that you should have enought left in the tank for a place in the Champions League place at the end of the season. Reminds me of the Robson era.

Good luck anyway

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  warren

Thanks Warren, reminding a fan of the Robson era is a huge compliment. Sir Bobby was a true legend and I still hold him in the utmost respect. The top four seems secure now, so maybe its time to push on and try to win something :)

ryanl lynch
ryanl lynch
11 years ago

well done

great signing in your striker

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  ryanl lynch

Thanks Ryan, I was very happy with the way my new signings are performing.

Arjuna
Arjuna
11 years ago

Wow Darren,
You have done fantastically to get to the top of the League, and you should get at least Champions League this season, and I think even the title is possible! Sporting are a good side, but you should get to the second knock-out round with no trouble.
Arjuna

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Arjuna

Thanks Arjuna, I have been shocked by my sides form and I guess anything is possible. I always expect a dip in form, but we have all four competitions to go at :)

Lye Kuek Hin
11 years ago

Hi Darren,

Good run from your team. I believe you can claim the top spot as your own if you keep playing that. Well done. Good luck for the rest of the season.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Lye Kuek Hin

Thanks Lye, the form is just brilliant and a top spot will depend on how long I can maintain the momentum. I hope you’re right though :)

junior
junior
11 years ago

one word “inspiratonalyundescribable”
well done man..god job

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  junior

Thanks Junior, loving the one word :) Its weird really, I keep going into certain games expecting to lose or draw, but we seem to overperform and grab the victory. I’m finding myself expecting a win in far more games than I would have dreamed of last season, so Im delighted with the progress.

Johnny Karp
11 years ago

Excellent! I told you that once Paloschi would get going you would be unstoppable! :P I can’t see why you couldn’t win the title this season, go for it!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Karp

Lol!! You certainly called that one, spot on Johnny. Paloschi will probably be the difference this season. A goalscoring supremo was what I missed last season. The title is definitely there to be attacked and Im considering going for every comp possible. Hopefully we wont burn out too early.

ryanl lynch
ryanl lynch
11 years ago

hello,

yes i can see you winning the title this season, you have good mix of your original players and new players brought in

:D

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  ryanl lynch

Thanks Ryan, I think getting the mix right can make a huge difference. Hopefully we aren’t too understaffed with a busy fixture list ahead.

Sayam Khan
Sayam Khan
11 years ago

Didn’t I say at the end of last season that you could win the title this year and you disagreed with me? Have a think again about that :L

Brilliant Darren, top of the league and Palocshi scoring goals!

Good Luck.

PS; I’d like to enter for that competition you told me about please. ;-)

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Sayam Khan

LOL :) :) Everyone seems to have made a prdiction last season and been 100% correct. Your certainly no exception mate, and I’m starting to come around to the idea. It seemed impossible last season, but my new signings have transformed our attack. Ill enter you into the rankings now mate and keep track of trophies while reading your posts.

kevin
kevin
11 years ago

Hi Darren
Well done mate at bringing Newcastle to the top. an excellent set of results over the last three months and I get a lot of enjoyment watching your goals. Paloschi is really doing well for you know after a slow start.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  kevin

Hey Kevin, I was really happy with the results and form so thanks. Im glad you enjoy the goals, I must admit I look like a wholly sometimes when getting too excited. Hopefully Paloschi will bang them in till the end of the season :)

paine
11 years ago

Paloschi seems amazing, but in his first goal to Arsenal their centre back’s reminded me Madame Tussauds’ wax figures!

Jokes apart, he scored a terrific classy lob.

Are you planning to add some depth in January?

Congested fixtures are killing me, so maybe you could have to rest some of your men.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  paine

Hey Paine, I agree that the defenders seemed like statues. Paloschi has scored a few like that but I love that about him. He seems to take advantage of anything put in front of him. I am looking for one player during January in central midfield. We dont have much cash, but I need an extra body. Like you said, it can turn into a real struggle after winter.

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