It looks one month of a real-life is enough to finish the one season in the virtual world of the Football Manager 2021 for me. I recently ended the 2021 campaign with GAIS and we earned the promotion to the Swedish top tier at our second attempt. The game didn’t make it easy for me. Not because of a bad run of results or injury crisis. Or anything like this. But too many small bugs in this version are taking the motivation playing the game out of me.
I had a clear plan of what to do before the second season in terms of transfers, squad building and finances restructure.
It’s not a rocket silence and I’m sure most of you is doing absolutely the same automatically. I just wanted to exit all the real-life shits thanks to writing about something that I like to do.
Improve the squad & decrease the wage budget
This sounds like a plan. Not an easy plan but it’s doable. Maybe some of you will remember what I wrote in the post about the first season when I wrote about the promotion playoff with Helsingborgs.
I didn’t see a point to play with players I don’t want in the club for next year and I will try to sell them.”
I realised I have more than only two or three players with this status in my head. And I decided I will use them as the main resource for saving money.
Our wage budget in the first season was €111,512 per month. But we finished the 1st season over this budget by €7k p/m. One player (Haris Cirak – €2.9k p/m) was sent on loan to FC Inter Turku already before the end of the season.
I was able to sell or release 6 from 7 unwanted players during January 2021. Midfielder Adnan Maric moved to Vejle BK for €100k as the record club outgoing transfer. We earned €155k in total but it mainly saved almost €41k p/m on wages.
Mervan Celik, 30 years old Swedish striker, who spent almost the whole season injured, moved to Akhisarspor for free. He was the best-rated striker in terms of star rating. I rather saved €7k p/m than to risk he will be injured for another season. I couldn’t believe he got €20k p/m in the Turkish second tier.
Better players for less money
My main aim for the first opened transfer window was to strengthen our defensive line. In the end, I brought players to all areas including the new goalkeeper who will fight for the number 1 spot.
We brought 10 new players to the club. Two of them were confirmed before the save started. While Daniel Sterner will be a PF(S) backup. Paradoxically, Sterner has €3.3k p/m what is more than players I brought to the club as the new members of the starting XI.
The wide defender Harun Ibrahim will probably play only for reserves. His training rating during the first weeks of the pre-season was below 6. That’s not a good start.
You can also find one very unexpected transfer in the season timeline. It was confirmed almost at the end of the season and it’s not counted in the wage budget and screens in this post.
The wage budget for the 2021 season was decreased by the board to €109,738 per month. Nine from 10 new players were signed for free. Only 20 years old Norwegian striker Oscar Aga cost us €17.25k.
The newly arrived players have €32,425 p/m together with Oscar Aga as our new highest-paid player with €9.25k p/m. In combination with renewing contract of Nuha Jatta, we still were under the budget limit.
The less clauses and bonuses, the better
Some contract negotiations are really painful. Sometimes, it’s because of the player itself. Sometimes, it’s because of his agent. Or because you don’t have enough money to fill his requirements.
Appearance Fee, Clean Sheet Bonus, Sell On Fee Percentage… we all know it. I have nothing against most of bonuses & clauses, some of them are deserved for players. But I like to remove some of them if it’s possible.
Mainly Yearly Wage Rise, Sell On Fee Percentage and Top Division Promotion Wage Rise. The last one only if I’m not in the top tier, of course.
I think I did a very good job between the first and second season in terms of the wage rise for another season.
The screen below is sorted by the wage commitments for the 2022 season. You can see there are minimal wage rises. Only newly signed keeper Viktor Frodig refused to sign without the 10% of yearly wage rise clauses. And he has also top division promotion wage rise of 35%. He will get a big pay rise if we will go up.
If I will take our highest earner – Oscar Aga – as an example, it resulted in this. He wanted 15% yearly wage rise, 35% wage rise in case of promotion to the top tier, 15% sell-on fee.
I was able to remove all these clauses after I raised the Seasonal Landmark Goal Bonuses by €1k for both 10 and 15 goals bonuses. But there are not wage rises for the next two years. I like to do the same even with my own players while renewing their contracts.
One transfer window is enough
I’m not sure why but I have it like this for many years. Maybe from the beginning, I’m playing FM, I can’t say it 100%. But I’m considering it as my another weird thing I’m doing in FM in the last couple of years.
Probably all nations & leagues around the world have two transfer windows during a single season (please, let me know if you know some league with only one transfer window, thank you).
Superettan transfer windows & squad registration dates for the 2021 season:
- Sunday 15th November 2020 to Wednesday 31st March 2021 (before the start of the season)
- Thursday 15th July 2021 to Wednesday 11th August 2021
Despite this fact, I love to sign players only during the first transfer window mainly.
That means I have the main core of the squad already in the team before the season starts. I don’t like to buy players in the middle of the season from unknown reason.
I remember I needed new players many times in the past but I rather usually continued with scouting/searching the right player for the summer and used the youngster for the rest of the season.
It’s like bad squad management (if it’s not related to some long-term injury crisis) when you need new players in the midway through the season. At least in my eyes. I consider it the same in real-life football too.
That’s why I usually want to have the complete squad for the whole season ready before the new campaign starts. And just add some youngsters during the season.
Pre-season and Svenska Cupen
Before the 2020 season, the friendlies were already planned and I decided to not change it. But I arranged most of the friendlies on my own before the second season and it leads to the pleasant fact. Mainly in terms of finances.
We faced some Swedish top tier clubs like IFK Norrköping, Malmö FF, IF Elfsborg or BK Häcken. The first two matches were dissappointment in terms of the attendance but there were over 1k and over 2.5k fans when we faced Elfsborg and Häcken.
We earned €153,950 from gate receipts for the whole first season. We gained over €87k just during the pre-season and Svenska Cupen matches. It's more than half of the sum for the whole previous season.
I was really pleased with the performances and results in friendlies and Svenska Cupen. We lost to Helsingborgs in the first group match after they scored from penalties twice. Four points for a draw with Falkenbergs and a 1-0 win over Ljungskile were not enough to progress from the group.
But as I said, I was happy with performances and the way how the squad performed including newly arrived players.
A perfect free kick goal against Helsingborgs...
A nice through ball-assist in a friendly against Holbaek while playing mainly youngsters.
Start of the new Superettan campaign
The media prediction before the new campaign set us to finish 4th with the 7-2 odds. Both the club board and the players had the same aim – top half finish. I felt it can be better. Maybe at least the promotion playoff again. Mainly because of the new players in the squad and the fact I know the league better than before the first season.
Varbergs and Falkenbergs were relegated while Vasalunds, Värnamo and IK Frej Täby won the promotion to the 2nd tier. Our biggest rival, Örgryte IS, was predicted to finish just behind us.
Two-thirds of players in the media dream eleven were the same as before the first season. Matt O’Riley and Charlie Weberg were among the key players in the season preview.
Top league transfers:
- Edi Sylisufaj - Falkenbergs FF ⇒ IFK Göteborg - €625k
- Astrit Selmani - Varbergs BoIS ⇒ FC Midtjylland - €525k
- Emil Tot Wikström - Halmstads ⇒ BK Hammarby IF - €425k
The end of April brought two very similar inbox news within two days. Meinhard Olsen, the backup striker is out for 3-4 weeks with the sprained ankle ligaments. A day later Charlie Weberg is out for 6-8 weeks with the sprained knee ligaments.
Both injuries are labelled as injured after jumping. Olsen's news about the injury came on April 28 during the physical training day - Endurance & Quickness & Recovery sessions. There is always a possibility some injury can happen during hard training days like this.
Weberg's injury was announced a day later, around the same time of 14:00. I assume that's around the 2nd session in your calendar. (If it's same as two sessions per day in a real-life, it would be before the 2nd session from my experience).
Weberg is our key defender and the main man for the CD(St) role so it was a huge miss for this period. It's just a shame it happened during the technical training day when we had chance creation/conversion sessions + play from the back session. But things like this can happen whenever.
I immediately thought about the training sessions and I thought if it was too much but I refused to change something. Especially in combination with the fact that we played only one match per week at that time of the season. And also only a couple of players moaned about the training, mainly about their additional focus. As usual, they thought "Feels the individual training he has been assigned to work on is not producing any results."
"For sure, my darling, that's why you have green arrows around these attributes."
Weberg also lost some bravery as this his attribute went from 11 to 8 after the injury. I really hope it won't affect his future too much.
The first three months
The opening three months of the new league campaign were perfect. We played 11 league matches during March, April & May. We were the last undefeated side at the end of May with 9 wins and two draws.
The big bonus was also the fact we were the best team in terms of goals scored and conceded.
We kept 9 clean sheets in the opening 11 matches, all by our new goalkeeper number 1 Viktor Frodig. We scored 4 goals from corners in these matches. That's double amount of corner goals in comparison with the whole previous season. The stats also show 3 goals from free kicks - Marcus Sangré 2x after a far post routine from wide and Anton Snibb once with a direct free kick).
It looks like the short free kick routine in the Svenska Cupen match against Helsingborgs was not only an accident. It happened again in the opening league match against Akropolis, Nuha Jatta the scorer this time.
Anton Snibb and his free kick goal against Örgryte in the derby.
Half of the season
The first 15 matches of the season went really well and we ended the first half of the season at the top of the table with 39 points after 12 wins and 3 draws. We remained the only undefeated team in the league with only 3 goals conceded and 32 goals scored.
A perfect first part of the season.
We didn't have all the key players available in the last match against Vasteras and the young Arigon Zekaj had to play from the beginning despite he is my last choice for the line-up. But he scored twice and we won 2-1.
The first goal of the match was scored after 12 seconds what is a new league & club record. I shared it on Twitter here.
We are top of most of the stats. I purposely selected the first line of the player stats to show how Anton Snibb is great. Our left WB(S) had 1 goal and 9 assist in 15 league matches + most key passes + most player of the match awards + most interceptions made.
And 12 clean sheets in 15 matches is great in my eyes.
The biggest negative of this time of the season was that we lost Oscar Aga (our striker number one) for 4 weeks and also Charlie Weberg with another knee injury, this time for up to 7 weeks. It was just at the time when he was getting back to the good form.
But I thought that if we can win even with Arigon Zekaj, and he will score the winning goals, we will be alright...
The Youth Intake 2021
I was not too much optimistic before the second season in terms of the quality of our new group of newgens. Because of various reasons.
- Our facilities are average/adequate
- Junior coaching is average
- Youth Recruitment is fairly basic
- And our HoYD - Christian Juel Glem - can't make magic tricks by himself.
We have to be patient and earn some money before we will be able to improve our facilities. And also before we will be able to find some better Head of Youth Development.
I was right to not be optimistic. The two best-rated players (by stars) both have Unambitious personality so there will be some extra work to do within their development.
The quality of the Youth Intake can be also described very easily by the result of the friendly match between the last year's intake and latest newgens. The newgens from the first season won 6-0.
But I feel it's mainly just to sign someone to avoid a complete failure. I signed two more with more positive personality later during the save before their trial contracts expired. But we are far from the standards we would like to see.
The future is bright?
When you consider the text in the previous bookmark about the second Youth Intake of this save, you can't take the title of this bookmark seriously.
- What can be bright when only 4 newgens were recommended for signing?
- Is there something positive that two highest-rated newgens (in terms of the star rating) both have Unambitious personality?
- What is bright when the best-rated central defender of this newgens' group has Heading attribute of 7 and Strength of 6?
Well, it's probably about to be happy because of small things like trophies!
Our Under 19s team won their U19 First Group 2 and they won the promotion to the U19 Premier Division!
The squad is filled by all the newgens from the first season and despite most of them were not good enough to be promoted to the first team, they won 12 matches, drew twice and lost only once. They score 41 goals and conceded 16.
William Johansson played mostly as the Pressing Forward with the attack duty scored 17 goals in 12(3) appearances and he was the best goalscorer of the competition.
It's probably just the coincidence that both senior squad and U19s team had the best goalscorer of the season in PF(A) what was one of my main two tactical changes before the 2nd season as I just switched the duty from support to attack.
The second-best was Alexander Petterson who played as the Advanced Forward scored 10 goals.
I'm sure no player from this group will make it to the first team for a longer period than only when we will need some cover. But I take one big positive thing from it.
They play with the same tactic as the first team. That means it works.
Wayne Rooney in the town!
Yes, you read the bookmark title right. The one and only Wayne Rooney is the new GAIS player.
"Göteborgs AIS have signed English veteran midfielder Wayne Rooney on a free transfer."
It's not a secret there is a lot of English players available to sign for free when you are playing in Scandinavia. No matter their age or quality. It was also the case of the midfielder Matt O'Riley when we signed him for free in September 2020. He is our key midfielder and he is our main RPM in the second season.
There were a couple of players I would bring to the club for a trial before the end of the 2021 season. But I didn't do it in the end.
Because I found Wayne Rooney here in the list of free agents. And it was that typical moment when you ask yourself "What if...?"
Yes, I tried it. And yes, he accepted our offer.
I still remember Wayne's beginnings when he started playing the Premier League at the age of 16. And that debut goal against Arsenal. He is only one and a half year older than I so I always followed his career. You will always compare the same old (or almost the same old) footballer with yourself. I played the competition for the U17 category when I was 16. Wayne made his Premier League debut.
I recently saw some posts about the fact he has never lived up the expectations. It's even in that screen above and in FM, despite it's connected to his time with Derby County.
I didn't think about signing this kind of player in my save. It's not the usual way within my saves. Especially as we were just promoted to the Swedish top tier.
- Length: 1 year (October 2021 - November 2022).
- Wage: €12.25K p/m.
- Signing On Fee: €13.25K.
- Agent Fee: Doesn't have an agent.
- Appearance Fee: €550.
- Team Of The Year Bonus (Division): €8.5K.
- Unused Substitute Fee: €140.
Wayne is 35 years old now. He was able to make 40 appearances (37 in the starting XI) for Derby County in the English Championship in the 2020/2021 season + scored 8 goals and made 4 assists. He didn't play since his departure from Derby. But that doesn't matter.
- Will he ensure we will stay in the Allsvenskan?
- How many matches he will be able to play?
- Will he make a lot of assists from set pieces thanks to his perfect corners and free kicks attributes?
- Will his signing boost the club finances or the match attendance?
- What shirt number will he use?
- Will am I able to convince him to stay in the club as a coach?
There are many unanswered questions right now. We will know the answers next season. He is considered as the DLP(S) right now. Where you would play him when you consider his attributes and traits in combination with the roles I'm using - RPM - CM(A), CM(S). Let me know if you want...
I decided I won't give him some hard training regime. Just the playing position and normal intensity. At least for the start before I will see what he will be capable during the matches.
There were 14 days between the last four matches of the season when we already had the promotion confirmed. It was only about who will be crowned as the league winner. And as there is a no registration window or deadline, I was able to try him in the competitive matches!
I set him as the inswinging corner taker and all the free kicks. And I played him as the CM(S) who has Hold Position, Take More Risks and Shoot Less Often instructions, same as DLP(S) role.
He played both last league matches and he scored his first goal for the club in his debut. It was also the winning goal and also the goal that sealed us the league title.
As you can see, he will need more time to adapt to our playing style and the language too.
Superettan 2021 WINNERS
I realised how straight forward the second season was in terms of the past positions' screen. We moved to the first place of the league table after the 4th round and remained up top until the end.
- Goals scored - 58
- Goals conceded - 11
- Clean sheets - 20
- Penalties taken/scored - 7/7
- Average attendance - 1,485
- Average attendance by capacity % - 18%
- Highest attendance - 6,989 (vs. Örgryte IS)
The Original Derby spirit
Same as many clubs around the World, even we - GAIS - have some rival(s). We have two fierce rivals in Örgryte IS and IFK Göteborg labelled as local rivals. We also have other rivals in BK Häcken (local), IF Elfsborg and AIK (both competitive). All three other rivals and IFK Göteborg play in the top tier so we only faced Örgryte in the first two seasons of the save.
The match against Örgryte IS is called the "Original Derby". They play their matches at the Gamla Ullevi stadium in Göteborg, that means we would play at the same stadium if I would not make the change before the save started (I created our own and smaller stadium to not play at the same stadium as three or four other teams).
We played four times against each other during these two seasons so far. We won 3 matches with 9 goals scored and 0 conceded. Only the first match in August 2020 ended with a goalless draw.
These matches are really important not only for the fans but also for the clubs itself. Mainly because of the matchday income.
5,981, 5,265, 6,655 and 6,989 were attendance in these four matches. To be fair, two-thirds of the fans were Örgryte fans both home and away. But I'm sure we will be better in the future.
Our average attendance is around 1.5K, Örgryte has 3.1k this season. Our average attendance is really influenced by this one match as it would be only between 800 - 900 without this match.
Something about the home match in the second season as we won 5:0...
The 16 years old newgen Daniel Eriksson scored both penalties, the other 16 years old newgen Anders Svensson scored one of our two goals after a throw-in. Both our experienced CM(S) players (Ladan & Halgunset) were out now due to injury so Eriksson was getting a lot of time in this position/role.
6,989 fans at the match what is great and undoubtedly the biggest attendance of the season but the game suggests there were 5,163 away fans (Exactly what I mentioned earlier above). That means there were around 1,800 our fans so only about 800 more than usual as we are between 980 to 1050 fans at home matches. Still a lot of work ahead. But the result of the derby is fantastic.
Get Stuck In instruction was added just for this match and switch from CD(St) to CD(Cover) against 4-4-2 worked perfectly.
The next season in the top tier can be absolutely perfect with the GAIS - IFK Göteborg rivalry, right?
The rivalry between GAIS and IFK Göteborg is the biggest in Gothenburg. The latest incident between the two teams occurred in February 2019. Around 13 seconds into the second half, supporters of IFK Göteborg made a pyro show containing fireworks who injured the GAIS goalkeeper, Marko Johansson.
We will see...
Daniel Sterner – the unexpected hero
Daniel Sterner (as I mentioned and shared at the beginning of this post) came to the club from Täby FK for free before the 2nd season. It was one of two transfers confirmed before the save started. I think I would not sign him when I consider his attributes/age/wage.
But the more I let him play, the more I like him.
He caught my eye already during pre-season as PF(A). He had something different than other players. I’m not sure what exactly.
He was considered as the backup. And not even as the first sub choice. He made it to the pitch on 75th, 66th and 83rd minute in the first three rounds. He didn’t even play in the fourth league match.
But both Aga and Lindberg had some minor injuries. And Sterner took his opportunity as the main PF(A).
He started with one assist against Norrby, one goal against Örgryte in the derby. He was not playing too well against Degerfors and he was subbed before the sixty minutes were played. But he scored seven goals in next four matches in May and moved to the top among the best goalscorers of the league.
He didn’t score in the last part of the season and he is waiting for a goal more than 10 matches. But he scored 15 league goals in 26(3) appearances and he ended the second-best goalscorer of the league. Only Oscar Petterson scored more (18).
In overall, I didn’t expect he will feature in more than 5 games as one of our subs. That speaks for itself probably. My finances will be tight in our first season in the top tier. And that means Daniel will play a lot of games again.
I planned to write something about the season and I wanted to use some parts from the season review.
But this new feature headline doesn’t work properly. It was one of many bugs in this edition I found during these two seasons and it pissed me out completely. And will rather stay silent and end this post with this.
I love this game for many years but every time I find something like this, I am not sure why I still play it…— FMRensie (@FMRensie) January 28, 2021
I had some beers but I really didn’t expect the seasonal best eleven will include players who played 2 matches. Or better, the released/sold players a year ago… 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/fZA1raL88M
Sometimes, it’s not easy to play this game. I don’t have to mention the fact we invest sometimes even more time into reporting or editing the game than playing. And I don’t like it more and more…