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Darren – FM 2011 Newcastle’s great Jan-Feb 10/11

Hey guys, welcome back to the North East of England and my Newcastle story. The last post finished on a low, with the Toon losing away from home to both Chelsea and Tottenham. However, November and December went quite well on the whole and I found myself in the top half of the Premier League. In order to stay there, I needed to take advantage of the decent fixture list ahead. I also mentioned my frustrations at a lack of goals upfront, well this could be resolved by my new striker. I have loaned Macheda from Manchester Utd for a fee of £400K. Usually I am against paying money to only have someone for half a season, however, I neither had enough money or could raise enough to actually buy a decent striker. Therefore the small loan fee seemed reasonable to get more goals from my front men.

As you can see the Italian is a real finisher and screams out for a role of ‘poacher’ in my opinion. He seems like the sort of striker who may play badly and seem very average, but then score the winning goal with a moment of magic…or maybe that is just me dreaming and hoping. Well lets see, on with the seasons results starting with January.

January results

The month started very well with victory over Wolves, then a tough away day at Wigan brought me back to earth. The Latics used two defensive midfielders which proved too much to break down. Especially considering my poor strike force (I hadn’t signed Macheda yet.) I used the FA Cup tie against Oldham to field some youth and gained a great performance from both Araujo and Vuckic. This victory set my side up for a local derby in the 4th round. There was still two league games to play before this though and I gained mixed feelings. The Bolton game ended 1-0 after another great strike from Tiote, then we lost away to Everton 2-0. A rather poor performance that lead me to give Macheda first dabs on the starting 11 following Carroll and Araujo’s recent performances. Macheda went on to score his first goal in black and white as the Toon sent Middlesborough packing 3-1. My cup run continues and Newcastle are matched with Blackburn in the 5th round.

Newcastle 2-0 Wolves (Premier League)

With Wolves enjoying a good start to their second season in the top flight, they were lying around mid-table. I wanted to run the show from central midfield, so decided to use my trusted 4-5-1 with a cautious strategy of ‘standard’. Andy Carroll was to start the game as the loan supporting target man. Hopefully his knock downs would prove effective, because the Toon favourite can’t score at the moment. Here are the match highlights.

Two good goals capped off a great performance here. Danny Simpson was amazing and picked up the man of the match, his cross during the first goal was perfect! Then Joey Barton’s dogged determination won the ball back and set up Nolan for the second. Newcastle dominated the match, but the strikers were still struggling to find the net :(

February results

After a decent January, I had a tough month ahead to keep up the momentum. We started in perfect fashion by thrashing Manchester City 3-1 at St James Park. My boys had done the double over City this season and that was a great achievement on its own. Then we held Aston Villa to a 1-1 draw away from home, but probably should have taken all three points. My next encounter was at home to Stoke, a very scrappy game but Andy Carroll’s early header proved enough to win the match. This was followed by a great victory in the FA Cup 2-1 against Blackburn. Ben Arfa proved his weight in gold yet again netting the winner. I was now looking forward to a 6th round tie against Cardiff and starting to dream of Newcastle’s first major cup in like forever :) The month finished on a huge high as we slaughtered Fulham 4-0 and put in a our performance of the season. You have to see the goals from that game!!

Newcastle 3-1 manchester City (Premier League)

This match warranted a 4-5-1 and counter strategy. As always I took the cautious approach knowing that I could turn more attacking if needed. With my pace on the flanks I wanted to draw City on to us and hit them on the counter. Andy Carroll got the nod ahead of Macheda because I felt like height would come in useful here. Lets see the highlights and some goals!!!

My side played like heros during this game, Jonas terrorised the wing backs and gained a goal as well as an assist. When Milner scored the equalizer I was starting to panick. Then Ben Arfa was brought down inside the box and Macheda stepped of the bench to put the penalty away. Two things pleased me most from this result. Firstly, the team play and link up play, the ball was passed around with precision and made Man City look like amateurs. Secondly, my decision to use Carroll as a supporting target man payed off. Every long ball met his head and ended up with a team mate. This helped us keep possession and City didn’t know how to handle him.

Newcastle 4-0 Fulham (Premier League)

After gaining a few brilliant results using my 4-5-1 I decided to stand by it for this game. However, Andy Carroll was replaced by my on loan poacher Macheda. I felt like there was potential for goals here and opted for someone who could hit the back of the net. I have saved this one for last because some of the goals are great, especially Nolan’s. Here are the highlights.

Jonas was sensational yet again and collected man of the match, his pin point crosses were unstoppable. My favourite performance was from Macheda though. His off the ball movement helped him score the first goal and assist the second. Then the third goal was simply WOW! Some neat passing in the Fulham penalty area ended with Nolan’s amazing strike from 25 yards. The game finished with super sub Araujo’s quick thinking and great finish. What a way to end February, the lads really are starting to enjoy my 4-5-1.

League table and squad stats

The season is growing old and I only have two and a half months left. After 28 games I have already amassed 48 points and am loving the 6th position. A realistic expectation will be to stay in the top ten now, however this will depend on our difficult end of season games. Some great form could even see my boys crack the top seven. Manchester City have stormed to the top after a great winter, but the title race is well and truly on. I couldn’t pick the winner but think Man Utd may just have enough what do you think?

These two months were something special for me, but four players in particular have stood out so far. Ben Arfa has been great, scoring 8 goals and assisting 3. Enyeama has also become a huge player, his average rating is high for a Goalkeeper at 7.02. Barton has pleased me so far and his 10 assists have earned him a first team place consistently. Then there is Jonas, the Argentine may not be consistent but his 5 goals and 6 assists have come in magical style.

End of season fixtures

The season is almost over and finishing in the top seven or mid-table will depend on those final ten games. There is a mixed bag to deal with so I’m not sure what to expect. Eleven points will be my target for the last few months but I am also concentrating on the FA Cup. A win against Cardiff would see us in the Semi Final and in with a great chance of making the final.

Well guys that is it for today’s post, I hope you are enjoying my journey. My next post will be the last of my 2010/11 season, so we’ll see where I finish in the Premier League and if Newcastle reach the latter rounds of the FA Cup. Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment below, I look forward to answering your questions and hearing your thoughts as always.

 

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sam
sam
11 years ago

Hey Darren!
That’s a really great 2 months. Too bad you didn’t win any of your 3 away games. I’m sure your team’s performances can improve again and rise up the table higher although it won’t be an easy task. If the team finish the season in a Europa League place will be great for a newly-promoted club.
Good Luck Darren!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  sam

Hey Sam, the away form is my main concern at the mo, but I can’t complain with our league position. Although I want to stay focussed on the top ten, I can’t help but dream of a top seven or even a top six finish. That would be great…thanks for the comment mate.

Arjuna
Arjuna
11 years ago

Hey Darren,
Wow, you’re February results are fantastic, and the win against Manchester City was amazing. I lost 4 – 0 to them!!! You are on course for at least a top-half finish
Arjuna
managerstoriesfootball.blogspot.com

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Arjuna

Hi Arjuna, I am very confident in our chances of a top ten finish now. We also did the double over Man City this season which was fantastic. I just hope we perform well against the other big sides coming up.

Atlant
Atlant
11 years ago

Good job me managing Aston Villa 3rd season ready for the title. Im 2nd Man UTD is very very far to me
but hope i’ll keep this place and i will reach champions league Group Stage for the 1st time xD

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Atlant

Thanks Atlant, sounds like you have it very good with Villa. A lot of progress over a short amount of time. Hopefully I can guide Newcastle to similar heights.

GS Fan
GS Fan
11 years ago

Darren,

You da man! Look at that!! You know what? I’m looking at the standings and thinking, Europa Leauge next season? I don’t want to jinx it but I think you can do it!! You’ll have some nice cash coming in as well.

Can’t wait for the end of the season to see what happens!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  GS Fan

Thanks for the kind words and optimism GS Fan. It would be amazing to play in the Europa League next season, but I’m concentrating on gaining the top ten finish first…that is my minimum target.

ps. Thanks for doing the YouTube tutorial its perfect. Can’t wait for your next post mate…when is it?

Lye Kuek Hin
11 years ago

Hi Darren,

The results for these two months has consolidate you on the top half position. I believe your aim now should be a Europa spot or even go one better the Champions League place. Keep it going mate. I believe you will have a good finish. Good luck.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Lye Kuek Hin

Thanks Lye, I’m loving your optimism. I want to focus on securing the top ten, then we’ll see where I am come the last few games. Top four will be a little too much this season, but that is my aim over the next few years.

warren
warren
11 years ago

Hi Darren

You are doing brilliantly well in your first season as manager and just think where you can have been if you were able to get a striker to constantly put the ball in the back of the net. Some tough games still left in the season with the top 4 still to play as well as the return match of the tyne-wear derby

Good luck

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  warren

Thanks Warren, I agree with you, who knows what would happen if I had a consistent goalscorer. Maybe next season will provide one, or Carroll and Araujo will hit some form. It will be a tough end to the season but anythings possible as I beat Man City at home and away. Hopefully we will keep the pressure on and finish seventh or sixth.

Sears
11 years ago

Great work Darren. You really have transformed Newcastle in the last few months. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble keeping your 6th spot, although you do have a tough finish to the season. Good luck mate!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Sears

Thanks Sears, Im still not sure if we can hold onto sixth. There are a lot of great sides below us and a mega tough finish to the season.

Laxeyman
Laxeyman
11 years ago

Another good couple of months Darren, well done. Your last few fixtures are quite tough, but hopefully you can hang in there and get a top 7 finish and a Europa League place. That would be a great achievement, good luck!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Laxeyman

Thanks Laxeyman, the top seven would be great. Will be tough but I’m looking forward to the end no matter what.

Johnny Karp
11 years ago

Great run Darren, the team seems to be playing very well and from what I’ve seen in the highlights you’re scoring quite a few beautiful goals. An European spot is quite likely at his point, great job!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Karp

Cheers Johnny, the lads really have scored some corkers. Now all thats left is to hold onto the top seven. We’ll see what happens, but I also have an FA Cup quarter final tie with Cardiff. Who knows, maybe a cup run will end nicely.

GS Fan
GS Fan
11 years ago

Darren,

The last couple of nights I’ve been focusing on my Galatasaray game.

But I’m definitely due back at St. James’ Park! Hopefully I’ll have the continuation of my season up on the forum in a couple of days!

kevin
kevin
11 years ago

Hi Darren
Excellent performances during the winter months and I liked your idea of bringing in Macheda. I think he will really help you on the run it to a Champions League place.

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  kevin

Thanks Kevin, Macheda should certainly help us but I think the top four will be too far. Maybe a decent goal for next season though.

junior
junior
11 years ago

one more inspirational story..your stories are not only good but also very inspirational..keep up the good work
(i got a cool question..what was the worst game u started in fm..like a save game which things were just going wring for u??)
jr

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  junior

Thanks Junior, glad your enjoying the story. Must say I love managing Newcastle as their my fav team. As for your question its a good one, but easy to answer. Can’t remember if it was the 08 or 09 edition I played on but I started a game with West Ham. I lost half the squad to interested and was relegated…worst game i ever played :(

Ana Garcia
Ana Garcia
11 years ago

Good couple of months Darren, your team are playing very well.

Shame about the finacial situation but at least you found a good loan player who may help you during the end of season run!

Good luck on getting a european place!

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Ana Garcia

Thanks Ana, the team are blending quite well now and producing some nice football. I am hoping the financial situation will improve with a high league finish, but my board seem very stubern and tight. We’ll soon see though.

Birdy
Birdy
11 years ago

Hey Darren

What a season you are having after the plan you made about coming 15th or higher, that is thrown away top 7 raises funds to keep Ben Arfa. Fantastic work

Birdy

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Birdy

Thanks Birdy, I’m not sure that I’ll have enough to get Ben Arfa as I need the money before my new season expectations and I dont get the new transfer budget until then. He’ll cost way more after returning to OM so I may have to look elsewhere for a left winger. Eitherway Im concentrating on the top 10 as a minimum finish at the moment so we’ll leave next season until this one has ended.

Matt
Matt
11 years ago

Hi Darren, your Newcastle team are doing great! Im in a similar position myself with the toon, 7th place with 5 games to go! Hopefully we can both get a europa league spot

Matt

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Hey Matt, thanks for the comment. I am really proud of the lads so far and we are set up for a big finish. Sounds like you have a great game going too, its great to over achieve like this isn’t it. Let me know how you do with the toon, we should compare notes :) My next post will be on Monday. Thanks Matt

Matt
Matt
11 years ago

It sure does feel great!
I finished 7th, but main disappointment is that ben arfa refused to enter contract negotiations with newcastle for a permanent move!

Sean
Sean
11 years ago

Hey Darren i somehow managed to finish second with newcastle!!!!!
kadlec and suazo amassed 39 goals between them in all competitons.
in the summer i bought yobo, mensah, and and a young american winger called mauri.
After 9 games i have won nine :-) i should say tho i played 3 promoted teams and none of the so called big 6. I even beat roma one nil in st.james and drew with valencia in valencia. Its going brilliantly

Darren Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Sean

Wow Sean, that is very impressive. A win on the last day of the season would have guaranteed 3rd for me but 2nd is brilliant, well done. Looks like you have strengthened well for next season as well. Hopefully you’ll enjoy as much success. What transfer budget did they give you for the second season?

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