FM21 & GAIS: The first testing season

Predicted to finish at the 9th place, overachieved, finished third and lost in the promotion playoff against Helsingborgs IF. That’s probably the shortest summary of the first part of my save in Sweden with GAIS.

It started in May 2020 so I didn’t play the domestic cup as the group stage is scheduled for the spring of every year.

I decided to write the (probably) most important things of these months of competitive matches in the timeline and you can switch between the 10 bookmarks/dates. The pictures are normally clickable and they will open in a new tab to ensure you can see the whole image if you are interested.


Why testing season?

It took me almost a month of the real-life to finish the 7 in-game months due to more important commitments in the real world. I knew about this before and I’m sure I won’t play as much as in the past. I named this season, or maybe better this year, as the first testing season. The reason is simple.

I tested the new league with the schedule based on the calendar year rather than from August to May. It was also about to try to know new players and try to find some good players around the Scandinavia.

It was also about to create the required views, shortlists, filters and other things I like to make during the first season to have it ready for the rest of the save if I will not change the way of recruitment, club philosophy or strategy.

The 3-5-2 formation also required the testing and it was great to follow the development of it. It will continue for sure. It went from a more conservative approach with a lot of clean sheets to aggressive pressing with more risky playing style. We conceded 3 goals in a single match only twice per season. One of these matches was in the last match against Helsingborgs in the worst moment. But that’s life…


Season timeline


Julius Lindberg

I mentioned this player within the timeline bookmark(s) but he deserves his own part of the post. Soon 22 years old Swedish footballer, originally from IK Kongahälla, finished the league campaign with 23(3) appearances, 17 goals and 1 assist.

As I wrote in the timeline, he is not the natural striker, he is a more wide player. But I decided to play him as our main Advanced Forward in a combination with the Pressing Forward.

Julius Lindberg with attributes selected for the Advanced Forward role

When I open the coach report, I can see my assistant manager added Fairly selfish player (the third icon from the left within cons in the picture above) within the cons.

But is it really negative thing when I want the goals from him?

He played as Advanced Forward. He is not a creator, I just want goals from him. That’s another reason why I’m trusting mainly to myself.

I’m not too much into the stats but when I open his xG rating from the 2020 league campaign, even I am able to see he did very well.

When the striker position is selected in the coach report: “Julius Lindberg is performing around average in every area in key statistics for this attacking role.” It’s “above average in every area” when it’s the wide position.

His best match was in the middle of October when we beat Trelleborgs 7-2. He scored three goals and made one assist. None of his 17 goals was scored from a penalty kick.

I know he is not the best and I will be able to find many better players but I’m curious how or if he will develop in the future. From some reason, I feel he will be even better next season if he will stay injury-free…

FM21 & GAIS: The first testing season

Central Defender with the Stopper duty

Firstly, I don’t want to talk about the whole 3-5-2 formation we are using. Mainly because it’s not a finished “product” as it will take more seasons to make it work really good in combination with better players.

Secondly, I wanted to mention just one single role. It’s the Central Defender with the Stopper duty role. I’m using it within my 3 at the back as the central one.

I experimented with this role in FM20 while I was changing from Stopper to Cover duty depending on the number of strikers our opponent was using.

Stopper against one striker, Cover against two or more strikers.

FM21 & GAIS: The first testing season

“With a Defend (Stopper) duty, the Central Defender will push ahead of the defensive line and close down players before they got to the area.”

That’s my main aim for this guy. There are still two more central defenders who can cover the defensive line if the stopper would fail to win the ball or the opponent would pass around him.

Charlie Weberg – the key man in both positive & negative way

My main man for this role during the first months of this save was Charlie Weberg. The 22 years old defender was our only one loan player in the squad. He was with us from Helsingborgs IF (do you know why the negative way in the headline already?).

Yes, he couldn’t play against his club in the promotion playoff when we lost 2-4 on aggregate.

I thought about to cancel his loan when the save started but I kept him in the end. And he became my favourite player because he played really well in the CD(St) role.

He was able to step ahead exactly as I wanted. He has a Positioning attribute value of 13 (one of his best) and it surely helped him as “This attribute reflects the ability of a player to read a defensive situation and position themselves accordingly…”

FM21 & GAIS: The first testing season, Charlie Weberg

His tackles won ratio was 87.18% at the end of the season. He made 0.26 blocks per 90 minutes and he made only 1.37 fouls per 90 minutes.

Weberg finished the season with 96.80% of pass completion what only reflect the simplicity of the dribble less, take fewer risks and shorter passing instructions. He made 157 interceptions (12th in the league). He also had the highest average rating from all.

Btw. the Interceptions made stats screen will be a good source for searching a new central defender in the future.

Some examples of interceptions/push ahead…

FM21 & GAIS: The first testing season
“…close down players before they got to the area.”

You can see his pros & cons in the picture above. Cons also include the potential transfer fee and the estimated wage. Both are out of our limits. It’s unlikely we will be able to sign him again, 100% not as a permanent deal.


Behind the wall

One of my favourite moments of the first season with GAIS is the fact we had the best defence from all teams in the competition.

FM21 & GAIS: The first testing season
  • 30 matches played
  • 19 clean sheets (Mathias Karlsson 15x, Harry Wright 4x)
  • 18 goals conceded in 30 matches. The only team that kept it under twenty goals conceded in the season. The league winners GIF Sundsvall conceded 20.
  • 0 goals conceded from corners.
  • 1 goal conceded from the direct free kick
  • 1 goal conceded from the indirect free kick
  • 2 goals conceded from penalties
FM21 & GAIS: The first testing season

While I’m the one who enjoyed these great defensive stats, our fans would like to see more goals probably. We scored 40 goals in 30 matches (not too much if you consider we scored 7 in a single match). But GIF Sundsvall won the league with only 38 goals scored.

We had 1265 average attendance in the first season. Only 15% of our capacity. No team sold out the stadium in any match during the whole season. The titleholders Sundsvall had 4196 (49% of their capacity). The AFC Eskilstuna (finished 14th and avoided the relegation in the playoff) had 2544 – more than double of ours.

Something to improve for sure. Hopefully, we will be able to bring more people to the stadium in the second season.


The second season, 2021, will offer the Svenska Cupen group matches during the spring. And we will continue in clearing and overhauling and improving the squad and the club in overall. It won’t be easy. But it will be enjoyable for sure.

Thanks for reading.

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A Football Manager addict and lover for many years. You can follow me on Twitter or in Football Manager Slack – #fmrensie channel.

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