FM21 & GAIS: The simple tricks and the promotion

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.

Transfers summary – season 2021

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.

Season timeline

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.

The new league campaign started against Akropolis.

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.

Daniel Sterner and his stats in the 2021 season

Season review…

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.

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…

Take care…


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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