I didn’t know what to expect from the first season in the top tier with GAIS. But it’s clear it exceeded all expectations I had before the season started. My team continued to play with the 3-5-2 formation and I enjoyed it with slight tweaks here and here during the season. We overachieved and didn’t meet the media prediction before the season (14th). It was a perfect drama until the end and it was all decided with the final whistle of the last league round. Are you interested? Let’s read it.
Three targets = three new signings
I had a simple plan of what to do before our first season in the top tier. I knew I want to sign three players. Each line needed one player.
I knew this before the end of the season, and I would do the same even if we would not win the competition.
But I have to be clear, the Wayne Rooney signing before the end of the 2nd season was unexpected for everyone, and I didn’t count on it. It’s four signings potentially, but I will count Wayne to the previous season.
Wage budget increased after the promotion to €196k, so we had almost double the money.
The first one
I scouted many central defenders during the previous season, and I would like to sign many of them. But I didn’t. I had to remember I signed one already.
His name is Emil Agerbaek. This Danish central defender is 19 years old, and I signed him for free in summer 2021. But he wanted to go on-loan, and he was reluctant to sign the contract without this clause.
He went to Viborg and played in the Danish top tier. It’s a free signing. He has his contract with us until the end of November 2024 with the wage of €2.5k p/m only.
Emil should be with Viborg until June 2022, but I recalled him from the Danish side because he had to play as left defender instead of central defender, and also because I decided to give him a chance.
The second one
Another aim before the attempt to avoid the relegation from the Allsvenskan was to strengthen the flat midfield trio.
I was not able to sign my main Swedish target as his club wanted more than €200k for the transfer. That meant I signed the first target within the players with the expiring contract.
Kaan Kairinen – 22 years old, Finland. He signed for free, and he is a very well-rounded central midfielder. He can be very good in the CM(S) or DLP(S) role. And in the RPM role with some development as well.
His arrival gives me some freedom within the midfield line. I can use Wayne Rooney, who is not physically strong enough already. But I can also use some youngsters in combination with Kairinen or Matt O’Riley and Nuha Jatta.
The third one
I mentioned Daniel Sterner in the blog post about the second season. He was our best goalscorer of the season as our main PF(A) player. But I thought it won’t be enough to score the same amount of goals in the higher and better competition.
Other strikers, Lindberg, Aga and the newgens, were good enough for the 2nd tier but I didn’t trust their consistency. So, I didn’t stop searching for a new striker. I still have around €50k p/m available within the wage budget if I counted the wage of Kairanen already.
My main target was to sign a new Pressing Forward. I decided this player can be a foreign player. And I found him in Vladimir Rodić. The 28 years old wide player has great attributes for this role.
And I signed him for free as his contract with Hammarby was expiring. He was born in Belgrade, Serbia, but he decided to play for the Montenegrin national team.
Rodić is aggressive, brave and his teamwork and work rate are good enough too (read=at the level of the attributes threshold). He is physically well too. The fact I would be able to use him wide if I would switch from 3-5-2 formation is only a bonus. Or if I would need to replace my WB player.
I gave him a contract for three years with €6.5k p/m without some clauses (except the relegation release clause), only bonuses for goals and assists.
Season three, part 1
I decided to not use the season timeline this time and just divide the season into three simple parts by the fixtures. The season, based on the calendar year, started with the winter pre-season including friendlies and Svenska Cupen. As I mentioned in a previous post, I consider matches in the domestic cup as more friendly matches to test players, tactics, set pieces…
We didn’t make it through from the group stage in the second season but we were more successful this time. We won our group with 7 points after two wins and one draw. Oscar Aga scored four goals in these three group stage matches.
We were able to beat AIK after penalties in the quarter-final (I wrote about it here in the Next Match Only piece).
The semi-final was against IFK Norrköping, another bigger top tier club with a higher reputation and better players. But Oscar Aga scored in the 1st minute and we made it to the final thanks to a 1-0 win.
Here is always something special and something that you don’t expect so the final match against Djurgardens IF was played at the end of May. Two and a half month later after the semi-final. They are the Allsvenskan’s titleholders during the last three years and the biggest contender for 2022 too.
We conceded from a corner (the first corner goal conceded in this save, thank you #MythMike) and lost 0-1 in the final. But it was great to make it that far. The cup matches also earned us €102,590 on TV Revenue. And we also earned around €275k through the gate receipts just in May (when the final took place).
Season three, part 2
The first season in the top tier within this save, and the first one since 2012 relegation in a real-life, started absolutely fantastic.
Wayne Rooney led the team as the new captain to his probably the last season of his playing career. We started with a perfect away 4-1 win over IFK Göteborg in the Göteborg’s derby as IFK is one of our two fierce rivals.
Oscar Aga was in absolutely perfect form after I moved him to the Advanced Forward role last season and he proved it in the first part of the league campaign with 14 goals in the 15 appearances (more stats below).
There were a lot of goals scored but also conceded in the first month. The 3-3 home draw with Örebro was a perfect example of our own learning how to play in the top tier.
But there were also four consecutive 1-0 wins with 4 clean sheets at the beginning of May. We played and experimented with a more conservative approach against different formations and it worked.
The last match and the 5-1 home win against Djurgardens was absolutely perfect revenge for the cup final defeat. And it was also great to see our performance despite I didn’t make some tactical changes like short passes or something like this.
Our main 3-5-2 formation just worked perfectly against the strong side. And we were top of the table after the first 15 matches of the league campaign.
Season three, part 3
This part of the league campaign including 15 matches is probably able to divide into the other two parts. To the first 14 matches and the last match of the season.
We started with a derby match against IFK Göteborg. It ended with a 2-2 draw as Daniel Sterner scored the equaliser less than thirty seconds after he replaced Vladimir Rodic. The most important thing about the match was the attendance – 8,000. The stadium was sold out. For the first time of this save. And for the last time so far.
The squad was in very good form for the rest of the season. I think it’s important to remember one thing – it was our first season after promotion. But despite this fact, we were at the top of the league since the 8th round.
We were 10 points ahead once but it was influenced by Norrköping’s and Djurgardens’ games in hand. But we lost the top spot after the 29th round as we lost to Varbergs away while they were fighting to exit the relegation zone.
Norrköping didn’t lose since July and our 2-0 win over them. They only drew 4-4 with BK Häcken. But they won all other matches and made it to 1st place before the last round.
We played away against Djurgardens (3rd in the table), they had Elfsborg (7th in the table) at home.
It was by three points. We needed to win and we needed also Elfsborg’s win to match 66 points at the top of the table. It would ensure us the league title because the league rules are:
- Goal Difference (28 GAIS vs. 24 Norrköping)
- Goal Scored (55 GAIS vs. 45 Norrköping)
It’s clear we needed some kind of miracle and collapse of Norrköping at the same time. They were in very good form + we played away against one of the strongest clubs in the league = not an easy combination.
It all started as I expected. Norrköping took the lead just six minutes into the match after Leo Bengtsson opened the score. And we were under the pressure from the beginning. But we didn’t concede and the 1st half ended goalless. There still was some hope despite I expected the flash popup window in the left bottom corner will tell me that Norrköping scored the second goal.
I kept the side the same and I hoped for a miracle. And I was still saying to myself that the second place for the newly-promoted side is still absolutely fantastic.
The kiss for Rasmus Alm
But Rasmus Alm scored straight after the 2nd half kick-off and Elfsborg equalised. Another hope was given to use after Rooney + Aga magic in the 60th minute as we took the lead against Djurgardens.
The incredible story of what can Football Manager offer continued as Rasmus Alm, Elfsborg’s right winger scored his second goal of the match in the 70th minute. That meant we moved back to the top of the league 20 minutes before the full time.
My team played absolutely fantastic in the 2nd half (at least in my eyes) and we allowed nothing to Djurgardens. The final dot was made by Victor Blixt (the right CWB for this match) and young Danish midfielder Mogens Hartman – CM(A). He is just 16 years old and I signed him for free from AaB during the season. He’s still under the youth contract…
The final whistle meant we won 2-0 and Norrköping lost 1-2 at home.
GAIS moved to the top of the table and won the Allsvenskan thanks to better goal difference as both top teams had 66 points.
Goals and highlights from both these match.
The Club & Squad
I would say that we all playing one save with one club have a very similar aim – to develop the club as much as possible. This was only our third season and it’s clear that I won’t be able to reach the same date of the save as in the past, before FM20 more specifically as the playing time decreased more after FM19.
I think I would be at least two or three seasons further normally. The reasons are not important. But it means a change in my approach slightly.
My first thing what I would do in previous editions would be to try to improve all the facilities and all the recruitment parts of the club to have the best possible newgens. But is there a point when I know I won’t be able to see these newgens to develop?
My club is in-depth. Or we were in red numbers (around -€1M) before the end of the third season and before we got the prize money for the league title. So, is there a point to even try to invest in the youth facilities and to risk the club financial status because of this?
I tried to make some board requests but they rejected all of them due to poor finances. And it gave me food for thought to concentrate on proper scouting, player searching and recruitment for the current time rather than only for the future.
How the new ones did?
- Emil Agerbaek – recalled from a loan to make him one of the main three central defenders. He made 35 appearances, scored 2 goals (both from near-post corner kick routine), played 3,180 minutes with a rating of 6.94. No special progress in terms of development but a very good year for him in terms of playing time.
- Kaan Kairinen – he was signed with the view to be an important player. Kaan was important at the beginning of the season when Rooney was injured but he didn’t meet the expectations I had from him. He made only 12 appearances in the starting XI, the other 11 as a sub. He scored 2 goals and made 4 assists and I changed his agreed playing time from Important Player to Regular Starter. It resulted in his unhappiness. If someone will be interested in him, I have no problem to sell him and save his wage.
- Vladimir Rodić – same as Kairinen, I signed him with a view to having him as the starter. And he was our important player in the first half of the season. But his playing time decreased in the second half of the season and more players get their chance. On the other side, he earned a call-up to the Montenegro national team for the first time since 2016…
- Markus Nakkim (click to see his profile) – the 26 years old Norwegian central defender was signed for free from Mjondalen in August when we didn’t have any cover for the central defenders due to injuries and we would be forced to change the formation or play some other players here. Former Valerenga or Viking player made 11 appearances and became an important player. Will play him as our main CD(St) next season probably.
I mentioned the young midfielder, Morgens Hartman. I signed also Theis Pedersen, another young Danish player. While Hartman was for free, Pedersen cost us €3k. Yes, that’s right. I’m sure they both will be wanted very soon elsewhere.
If you read the post about the second season, there was a part about the Wayne Rooney signing including several questions. One of them was: Will he ensure we will stay in the Allsvenskan?
I think we should rewrite it to Will he fire us to the league title? And the answer would be YES! What about other questions? You will find out in the next post if you will be interested in…