These blogs have been coming thick and fast in line with my sheer determination to sacrifice sleep in order to play FM – it is truly an addiction and I am unashamed. Yes, it’s another blog to summarise ANOTHER season played but there are a few differences this time around and I’ll muse towards the end how I see this save going forwards. It’s been 4 seasons now and I’d always planned to take stock at the end of season 5 to see how I’ve fared in comparison to my targets.
In writing this blog I’m a little ahead of the curve in that sense but I want to make sure this save stays as fun and enjoyable as I’ve found it since the beginning. Hopefully getting my thoughts down and planning for the future will enable this.
Seasøn 4 – Eliteserian
We kicked off the season full of confidence, high on our 3rd title win in a row we strutted around the pitch exuding class as we smashed Start 7-2 in our opening fixture. Back to back wins followed before we crashed back to Earth with a 3-0 loss at home to the three-eyed Raven, Brann, who must have seen us coming. It was a troubling defeat and set the tone for what we turn out to be a bumpy season.
We followed this loss with another one, this time in the domestic cup competition in which we always seem to be utter shite in. A 2-1 loss at home to lower league opposition was galling and the Board were rightly fucked off with us. I claimed it allowed us to focus on other competitions…
We suffered defeat 4 more times before October meaning that after 21 games we sat in 2nd behind a resurgent Vålerenga, in the back of my mind I always thought we’d find our feet again and surge on but this season did not reflect last season at all. Our 22nd game was away to Vålerenga and it did not go to plan.
At this stage we were 4 points back and after 25 games we hadn’t managed to close the gap as Vålerenga maintained their winning streak, extending it to 9 games in a row. I mentioned in my slack channel at the time that I’d conceded the title, we were going to fall short and I thought deservedly so, we’d conceded far too many goals this season and were always going to regress in the number of goals we scored compared to last season. However things weren’t quite over yet.
Somehow, with the end in sight Vålerenga had managed to lose at home to a struggling Ranheim and drop points to Viking & Aalesund allowing us leapfrog them to the top of the table with a game to go. The final game was just stupidly nerve-wracking.
With Vålerenga easily winning their final game by half time I knew we were going to have to win this game to win the title and boy did we make hard work of it. 1-0 down, 2-1 down…we needed our saviour of the season, Herman Geelmuyden, on loan from PSV to seal the points with a brace and a late penalty. Four consecutive titles wrapped up but part of me was glad this season was very competitive whilst another part of me was mad that we conceded so many and almost threw it all away.
Delving Intø Defence
Looking back it doesn’t seem that we were as bad as I thought at the back. We conceded a hatful in the Champions League (more on that in a bit) but I look at that in isolation. Domestically we conceded 28 goals in 30 games, last season we conceded 30 and the season before that 22. It’s really interesting to do this because I was adamant we had conceded so many more than that. We lost 2 more games than last season but conceded 2 less. Our end of season summary in general performance, defensively, were almost identical.
Other than regressing slightly with our goals per game and xG this radar is almost identical to last season. Through the season I saw how ‘quiet, leaky’ we were and it was annoying me. It wasn’t until I was writing this blog that I realised things really weren’t bad bad as I thought.
What’s key in the comparison above is the conversion rate % on the X axis and how it looks worse but given the rest of the league conceded less goals on the whole, relatively we only performed slightly worse than last season, by worse I mean we had a worse conversion rate. We conceded less shots per game but conceded a higher & of them…to me (rightly or wrongly) I felt that maybe the chances we were conceding were of a higher quality this season? I decided to look at how we were conceding goals.
Here is where I would have placed an image from the analyst report but in researching said page for this blog I’ve realised it’s all completely bug-gered. Basically the numbers don’t add up and by a long way. I wanted to see whether we were conceding a higher % of goals from through balls, or crosses, or set pieces and also when abouts in a good we were conceding these goals. Alas this isn’t something I can do accurately right now without watching every game back and am I fuck going to do that. Disappointing.
Another year, another Champions League campaign. Making the group stages consistently overachieves against the marker laid out by the Board in our club vision but I am very happy to oblige here. Of course we kick off the calendar year with our first ever Champions League knockout tie…against an awesome Man Utd. It didn’t go too well.
Well and truly outclassed. Gone were the memories of beating Inter Milan & PSG to make the last 16. Here we were torn a new one by Odegaard & Fernandes.
Half a domestic season passes and we’re back qualifying for the Champions League again, but in better news:
Thanks to us and us alone we’ve single-handedly raised our European coefficient so that as of next season (Season 5 for us) the league winner will skip a round of qualifying. A small positive but a nice one.
For the first time we had a clean sweep in the qualifiers. Floriana are the worst team we’ve ever faced as we broke all sorts of records to smash them 20-1 on aggregate, 20! Legia were tough but we were solid, Dundalk were no problem and then we faced Red Bull Salzburg. I honestly thought we may succumb to defeat against a better side but again, we were brilliant and deservedly qualified. I don’t know whether we have a fitness advantage in these games – the fact that they come in the middle of my season, as opposed to the very start of most other clubs may well be working in our favour. Conversely the lack of fitness we have for our knockout rounds in February/March may well be our contributing to our downfall.
We had a tough group, as always, and we couldn’t repeat the heroics of last season. The 2-2 draw with Inter was a highlight as we were 2-0 down but they smashed us in the return fixture. We never got close to Barcelona but we did what we needed to do against Zenit to ensure a third place finish and qualification into the Europa League.
I think I’ll schedule in some friendlies before this game comes around. We usually only have 10 days of pre-season before the first leg however so it’s never going to be ideal.
Man øf the Seasøn
Last season I was raving about ABT, Albert Braut Tjåland. This season he was very, very good again netting 23 goals across 29 games, not quite the dizzy heights of 54 goals last season but as you can see he missed a fair chunk of games due to injury. One thing I decided to do before this season started was ensure we had a player in the squad who could step up in case that very eventuality happened. From the images above you may well have seen who that was by the regularity of goals they scored. Step forward, Herman Geelmuyden.
Herman, a Norwegian of course, joined us on loan from PSV and was THE perfect backup to ABT. 23 goals in just 15 starts is a phenomenal return and you could tell he was of a class too good for this league and too good for Bodø. His hattrick away at Red Bull Salzburg was great to watch. Without him there is no doubt we would not have qualified for the Champions League initially, not made it into the Europa by a third place finish nor won the league, he was absolutely crucial.
I’m not usually someone who likes to loan players. Why develop someone else’s player at the expense of one of my own? However we just didn’t have the quality needed to allow me to rotate or rest ABT when needed nor indeed step in when he was injured. As he was a Norwegian this one was a no brainer and paid dividends and then some.
I haven’t posted much in my blogs around tactics, or the squad in general but I thought I’d give readers a view of the players I’m most excited about in my current squad (and therefore those I’m most likely to be selling soon!).
Mads has been with us since the start and has progressed really nicely. He’s my main man at AMC or as a CM-A, I hope he stays forever.
FRJ and MNW were two big incomings, FRJ I mentioned before replacing Mannsverk last season and MNW is one of the best young centre backs in FM21 let alone Norway – it’ll be mighty hard to keep hold of him.
PAV, Pål Arne Valla, is the only newgen of mine who has now made it to the first team. He’s come on leaps and bounds this past season playing as many games as anyone else, mostly off the bench but always when the squad is rotated. He’s looked pretty solid so far, scored 5 goals and I’m hopeful he’ll kick on next season and try and earn a starting spot.
Any Other Business
A few tidbits before I round things off.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves seeing their team’s name as the overachievers of a competition, especially when it’s the Champions League. An incredible run to make it to the knockout stages, a feat I doubt I’ll be repeating any time soon.
I’d wanted to expand our stadium for a while, or build a new one. We’ve had over £30m in the bank for ages and it’s just sitting there. So the board finally decide to do so to the tune of 50 extra seats…what the fuck is this abomination? I appreciate we are a town of 50,000 in the arctic circle so we shouldn’t have a 30,000 seater stadium but I was hoping we could increase our capacity enough to allow us to host Champions League games at our own stadium (instead of in Trondheim) or at least put us on par with Rosenberg (12,000). This is a just a pisstake. Board must be crazy.
Sø What’s Next?
I’ve spoken a little bit about this in my Slack channel – part of me is a little concerned with the medium term future of the save. I’ve set restrictions on myself with regards to recruitment and, given the dearth of quality Norwegians coming through, worry that if I continue with these restrictions I’ll eventually regress as a team and the save will become quite repetitive and dull. I am loving it right now but I feel I may need to evolve and lighten my restrictions to allow the save and Bodø to move to the next level. Here’s what I’m considering from the end of next season:
- At the start of the season, increase the scouting budget to ‘Worldwide’ (given that I’ve got a loada dosh)
- Recruiting will be extended to include all Scandinavian countries + Russia
- From Season 5, allow a maximum of 1 signing for the first team from anywhere in the world
- From Season 5, allow a maximum of 1 signing for the youth teams from anywhere in the world
I’m hopeful that expanding my reach this way will allow us to improve the squad further and also allow me to replace a little easier should I happen to lose any of my star players. I will still always look to recruit from Northern Norway in the first instance, followed by young Norwegians and Danes secondly, but now should I not be able to find the quality I need at least I could search slightly further afield. I have to say it does feel strange to be almost 5 seasons in and not once having scoured the world for the next wonderkid. It’s a good thing.
Thanks as ever for joining me on my Norwegian journey. Here’s to the next chapter!