A new hope a new beginning…Na’h… Adios, Arrivederci, Auf Wiedersehen, and farewell.

This post has been a long time coming, the last one of this save was back before the summer holidays. Initially a little boredom set in, then I lost the save file after doing some spring cleaning. Then, one day as I was playing the Roma (De Rossi/il gladiatore) save, I was looking to add a face to the game, and I stumbled across a file on my external drive that shone like a beacon of hope. The holy grail had been found and all hope had been restored. I soon realised why I had become bored of the save. (Dominating Serie A had become a little boring).

 I re-joined the game where I had left it, as Torino manager I had just won a Serie A and Uefa Champions league double, but rather than thinking let’s look to dominate, I felt a sense of desire to manage one more club and go on one more challenge before I hung up my FM19 coat. With several young players coming through the door I held the Torino position until the 19th of September 2026. I also took up the chance of becoming Italy manager in the July of 2026, this was the first step to draw more enjoyment from a new challenge within the game, but one where I could still hold on to the Torino job. The blessing of this was short lived. I resigned at Torino, sighting a need to rest from the game before my next challenge.

During this time, I played four matches and failed to qualify out of the European International League group we were in which included Austria and Spain. We managed to win both Austria matches but failed to gain much more than one point against Spain. The final match of the group compounded my decision that my stay in Italy was due to end. We lost 3-1 against Spain. The match was a hard-fought battle and the WM tactic struggled with Spain being very incisive in the first half and for the majority of the second. Second in the group was all I could muster. We arrived back in Coverciano, Florence and I handed over a handwritten letter to terminate my contract with immediate effect to the president of the FIGC. They duly accepted. I returned to blighty with no plans, but BT Sports did provide me with a little platform each Tuesday and Wednesday to watch some football and listen to Glenn Hoddle and Rio Ferdinand waffle on about how Tottenham struggle and how Man Utd should be doing x or doing y.

Then out of the blue an invitation for interview came from Germany, Stuttgart came in, after discussing a few things with Giacomo Murelli (My right hand man who I had work with at Torino), I decided to say yes to the interview and eventually say yes to taking the job on until the end of the season.

The German media were not too keen on me from the off. They began by laying questionable doubt on why a recent Champions League winner would join a Bundesliga 1 team struggling near the bottom of the league. The doubt I suppose was justified as I had only taken the job with a six month contract. My initial thoughts were to try something new, in a new league and then work out whether the move to Germany would be my last hurrah. I was also keen to try and bring through good youth talent that were on the books at Stuttgart especially as I had seen many a wonderkid being produced in Germany.

I had to hit the ground running, but I also looked to shake up the tactics, which in turn meant I needed to act swiftly in the transfer market for players who could supplement the squad I had inherited.

I initially adopted the tactic that I used in England with TS Sports Fc. The 41221DM Wide. My opening friendly lead me into a false sense of hope, we won very empathically, 7-0 but the first few league games left me pondering for something different. The reason behind the move was to change things up a bit and this really needed to mean a shift in tactics. My first home match in the Bundesliga would see Stuttgart line up using my WM tactic, which had proved to be very successful in Serie with Torino. This match would again see me enter a state of wondering and think that I was missing something as the result came in a 3-1 victory. The performance still looked stifled. I can hear every manager say you have not given your side time with any tactic. And you would be right, but this didn’t stop me from becoming the new Claudio Ranieri, I was beginning to tinker a lot, and some purists would say too much. I was still unsure what I was looking for in the side that I had available. The big Dortmund match came, and I still felt like the WM could work but I had doubts over how many goals we would concede. So, I opted for the wingers to be more withdrawn. We won 4-1 Robert Salz proving to be as valuable as Massimo Dell’Anna was when I was back at Torino.

The change in position for the wingers then stoked a google search to see images of different tactics in the real world that played with a back three. I then had my eutopia moment, the light bulb shone brightly for a few seconds and I stumbled on the 3412 that Parma used back in the late 1990’s. This was the tactic that would see me to the end of my time on FM19.

To whomever made this image available on Google, Thank you for stoking great memories.

I then set about trying to make this tactic work knowing that I had the rest of the season to develop it along with the aim of surviving the dreaded drop.

The first few games were a struggle and the results didn’t go our way but as I persisted with the tactic and only changed personnel on fitness and match form, we began to find our way. We would record a huge 8-0 at home against Eintracht Braunschweig. This match would see me etch the name Paulo Cardoso in my notepad as a player to either loan or buy whether I was to stay at Stuttgart or move to another team. The wonderkid had come through the ranks at TS Sports (he came through the academy of the made-up team I had created, note I had left three years before he had joined the “Youth club”).

I then set about refining the tactic over the last five matches of the Bundesliga 1. We would win three draw one and lose once (Bayern at the Allianz Arena). We secured a 13th position. And going into the next season I saw hope and optimism for the future of Stuttgart due to several youngsters who had shown they were up for the fight of survival.

Post/Pre-Season then set in and a host of big clubs then did the annual shedding of managers. Man City sacked Marcelino, Jurgen Klopp left Bayern to join the Citizens. Antonio Conte would leave PSG to take up the reigns of Bayern. Didier Deschamps left Atletico for the Parisians. Renato Gaucho left Porto for the Atletico job. Marcelo Gallardo left Roma for Porto. Niko Kovac left AC Milan for Roma. And Marcelino would take the big job at AC Milan. So how did the Barcelona job become available? Zinedine Zidane had agreed terms to join Liverpool when Thierry Henry was sacked at the beginning of 2027. Upon the job becoming vacant the media whipped up a frenzy claiming Valverde was the favourite to take the job for a second time. However, I felt the interview I had attended went very well and as soon as I got the message inviting me to install some of my own staff, I knew the big Spanish job was mine.

I had a big act to follow as Zidane had left the Catalan team as champions of La Liga.

Armed with a new tactic I was keen to keep working on. I plugged the new 3412 Parma inspired tactic into training. My philosophy would to be less possession hungry but still look good on the eye. My first job was to use the treasure chest to supplement the squad, along with cull the deadwood who would not fit into my new tactic.

Before a ball was kick under my management, I set about sorting the squad. A loan deal for Paulo Cardoso was one of the first deals, looking at the squad I felt the boy could be a solid back up, with the hope that performances might force my hand in playing him more.

I then set about bringing in two new centre backs. Ruben Dias came from Pep’s Chelsea for £51m, he had found himself out of the side so I thought I could bring him a new release of life in Barcelona. I also tempted a former club with a big carrot. £81m tempted Torino to release Apraham Pan. I had big plans for Pan. I had the vision that he could become my Libero. I had seen his ability first-hand at Torino playing as a single centre back so knew he would be solid addition.

One of my biggest transfers was the acquisition of Monchi from Roma to become DOF. He signed on the same day as the Cardoso deal went through. I then pushed the responsibility of finding good/Barca standard talent that would fit into the new system. Italian midfielder Mirko Di Miro then joined on a season loan from PSG along with Monchi sealing the Dias and Pan deals. He then sealed a last-minute deal on deadline day to bring young centre back Francisco Catalina for £40m from Villarreal. The boy would have this season to get up to speed and show whether he could become a long-term replacement for Samuel Umtiti.

Signing of the season? Roma to Barca

We would also bring in Goalkeeper Pasotti and midfielder Allegra from Torino in the January sales along with Brazilian midfielder Boquita from Gremio and veteran fullback Hector Bellerin from Arsenal.

The outs were based on the player not being able to play in my set positions for the 3412 or they had, had their heads turned by the clubs that eventually bought them. Note I recalled Aitor back from his loan at Sociedad. I felt he could do a job in the first team rather than shelling out more money on another striker. I also thought I had better bolster the squad with some home-grown talent.

Due to the time Barcelona took to bring in a new President of the club, and then eventually confirm my appointment preseason was short. Three matches in China to get the team slightly familiar with a new tactic, a new way of playing and to bed any incoming players before the curtain raiser of the Supercopa de Espana.

We played Real Madrid managed by Eusebio Di Francesco who had been in the Madrid job since July 2023 and in that time had brought a haul of trophies to the Santiago Bernabeu, his latest was the Champions League. The opening exchanges were highly charged and in the fifth minute winger Rodrygo found space to shoot and score the opening goal. Less than ten minutes later Barca Left wingback Oscar found himself with time and duly score the equaliser. During the middle of the second half the pace of the game reignited with Real’s other winger, Christian Pavon scoring a well struck shot. My Barca team rallied around and within two minutes we had found another equaliser through Alex Bohringer. In extra time Wilfred Ndidi then found himself in the box with time to control, turn and shoot at goal to score the winning goal for the Catalan team. This would prove to be the first trophy of my campaign at the Camp Nou, would this be the first of many?

Unlike most updates I am not going to go into too much game by game detail as I would like to fit in some overall game review.

But what I can say is the 2027/28 season started in emphatic fashion at the Camp Nou by beating Real Sociedad 9-0 and we finished the La Liga season at the Camp Nou by beating Girona 10-0. These two matches were very impressive victories.

 Our first real test came in August at the San Mames against Athletic Bilbao. The result was 1-1. But somehow both teams would only see their respective goalkeepers score, albeit own goals. Another game of significance for me was the away victory against Atletico. We won 2-0. The “defensive” players of my Barca team played very well and built a performance platform to build from, which in turn allowed the team to score two goals with a very different style of build up play. First is Aitor’s goal which shows the attempt to play tippy tappy stuff from a corner, the ball gets intercepted for the ball to fall to Pan who picks out a pass to Right wing back Ricardo who then crosses the ball into the box for Aitor to finish. The second sees Ter Stegen kick the ball long to right wing back Ricardo. Who then dribbles from within his own half to half way into the opposition half. The ball is pickup by left wingback Oscar who then drives with the ball centrally until he shoots and scores deep in the second half.

The next major fixture in La Liga was the away fixture against Real Madrid. Played in mid-November this was a fixture that was played before a major Champions league match. This match saw some rotation of the squad. And I anticipate some squad rotation from Real too. This match was tipped in our favour as we had more of the ball and forced more shots on goal. The more important stats for me show we were less wasteful with the ball than Real. We went on to win 3-1.

As mentioned, the Champions League was also very apparent as a target for our season. We were paired in a group with Jurgen Klopp’s Man City, Marcelo Gallardo’s Porto and Massimo Carrera’s Fiorentina. We won our first four rounds showing dominance in our group. Seeing off City 2-1 at home, then a 4-0 victory in Italy against Fiorentina. And then the double over Porto, 2-1 and 3-1 respectively. Then the return of City came just after the Real Madrid match and we somehow, we managed to salvage a 2-2 draw. This may not sound much but we had gone 2-0 down with about 30 minutes left to play. German forward Alex Bohringer scored in the 62nd minute to give the Barca fans and team hope. He pounced on a mistake made by Edinson caused by Bohringer’s initial shot. He then follows the shot towards goal and taps in the save/miscontrol from the City keeper. We then lose a limb when Umtiti get sent off for a reckless challenge. City fail to capitalise on the player advantage and Aitor then capitalises on Moise Kean making a mistake in the box. Aitor duly slots the ball home to score the equaliser. Whilst talking about the Champions League, our last match of the group sees The Camp Nou treated to another Barcelona goal bonanza. This time we win 11-1. I know…The match sees us attack with a lot of precision our front two also seem to egg each other on to score more than the other.

With the game deep in December 2027 we then have our next LaLiga test the away match against Sevilla. We drew 2-2 in a match where Sevilla were the better side. But thankfully somehow, we managed to eek a goal when we needed to come home with a point.

The New Year would see us lose against Real Madrid in the fifth round of the Copa Del Rey. The Wingers that caused us problems in the Supercoppa were the two Madris players that would shake the Camp Nou. Rodrygo scored and Pavon scored a brace. Barca would start too late in this leg to get anything out of the match. We lost 3-2. But with such a lack lustre performance we pretty much rule ourselves out of the tie. The return leg saw us draw 3-3. Once again defensive mistakes would lead to our downfall. I regrouped the players and reminded them that were still massive favourites for the LaLiga title if we can maintain our concentration and we still had the Champions League to fight for, our spirit was rekindled.

As you can see the La Liga form was outstanding, we then went on a mesmerising run of form where we won the next 23 league games. That’s right we went the entire La Liga season without losing. This would then etch a note to self to make this the last season of FM 19. As this would be a perfect way to bookend the save. My first Season with TS Sports Fc in the EVO-Stik Northern Premier League had been an invincible season and this was to be the way I ended the save with Barcelona winning La Liga with an invincible season.

Two results stand out for me. Yes I know its predictable but The home games against the two Madrid teams. The 6-0 home thrashing of Atletico. A complete team performance but one goal stuck out for me as this finally demonstrated the Libero in his attacking pomp. The stats and analysis don’t give the build up of this goal justice, but the highlight does.

The 3-0 win against Real gave me a sense of pride to know that we could have beaten them in the Copa del Rey if we had tried or had pick our strongest side.

The final game of the season was like an exhibition match featuring the Harlem Globetrotters. We put on a show, but for this show I made the point of playing my strongest team. The reason behind this was we had an important game to play in that other competition we were still competing in.

The draw for the first knockout round of the Champions league was a kind one, we were to play Marseille twice first in France and then back in the Camp Nou. The first match was a comfortable 4-2 victory. The Marseille goals would show our vulnerable side to quick counter attacks. But our general build up play and lethal prowess infront of goal gave us an edge. The second leg in Barcelona would prove to be a one-sided affair. We won 4-0 in a game that TS Sports FC Wonderkid Paulo Cardoso would show the footballing world that he could be the next big thing. The Quarter final draw would see us take on Pep Guardiola’s Chelsea. The first leg was in London, and within 15minutes Libero Apraham Pan would put the tie firmly into Pep’s hands. The boy was last man in defence and produced a two footed lunge when a simple foot on the ball was required. We spent most of the tie in London with 10 men. And once again Bohringer and Aitor would produce moments to keep us in the game and in the tie. We somehow left Stamford Bridge 3-2 victors. Pan was quiet on the trip back to Barcelona, but a little word in his ear to learn from this experience was all that was given. The second leg was just as close only this time with Pan suspended, I looked upon the experience of Manuel Locatelli, who had been restricted to be Pan’s back up since I had taken the helm at the Camp Nou. We narrowly won 2-1 although the Chelsea goal did come right at the death of the match. Our Semi would put us in another stiff tie. Man City would once again be our opponents. Having played against Klopp’s City earlier in the group stage, I felt confident we could put ourselves in the final. The first leg at the Camp Nou, would see us put the tie in our favour within the first half. We score five. We set about defending in the second half and saw out the game as 5-0 winners. The second leg in Manchester was a much more interesting game Chamorro would put City a head in the match in the first half then once a few words were said at half time Bohringer and Aitor responded to put Barca into a slender lead on the night. For Milinkovic Savic to score a screamer to bring Cit-eh back into the match on the night but still short for the aggregate lead. Then from a corner Ruben Dias scored and broke the hearts of Manchester. We would take the match 3-2 and win 8-2 on aggregate. This then meant a Champions League final date with the other team of Manchester. Not Denton Rejects. Manchester United.

This Champions League final date was the reason behind a star-studded team against Girona. My thought was to keep my strongest line up match fit and firing on all cylinders come the final two weeks after our last La Liga game. We won the Girona match 10-0. With both Bohringer and Veca scoring a hattrick a piece.

The Champions League final was held at…… the Camp Nou. Another reason behind why we had to get to the final. The prospect of winning in our own stadium was too big a prize to turn down.

The Final saw the Barcelona team rise to the occasion in a one game shoot out. Only there were no penalties required. My star German striker made a point of showing the world what he was capable of by scoring the opener after 14 minutes with a well struck shot from outside of the box. Centre Back Francisco Catalina then scored his first of the season with a close range shot from a corner. And Bohringer then score his second before half time to make it three. Simeone’s Utd then clawed a consolation in the 49th minute through Pietro Pellegri. Barca’s Italian playmaker Michele Allegra would then seal the victory in the 92nd minute with a close-range screamer that almost ripped the net of the goal.

To briefly summarise I managed to win a La Liga / Champions League double. Without losing a game in either competition.

Goals and Assists from my main striker were certainly a key factor to our success but I would say the goal of others such as Ruben Dias scoring eleven in all comps along with both of my main midfielders certainly contributing with a combined 22 goals and 21 assists evenly split between them (Mirko Di Muro and Jesus Borrega).

It’s now that I have decided to stop that I can review the save, to see where I started and how I became a double unbeaten winner with Barcelona.

I started this save as an editor create a club challenge. I had set a club up with a squad of players who were written to be as good as the Salford City’s team of 2018/19. The team started in the EVOStick Northern Premier League, I had anticipated that most of the players that I started with would end up being picked off one by one by some League Two club acting like a vulture arouns a carcass, but the immediate league success never really came as too much of a surprise. It is actually the club’s successes after I left that surprises me as I had anticipated them to be stuck in League One or a battling yoyo side in League One and Two. From looking at their progression they managed to win League One and the Championship, to then establish themselves in the Premier League. TS Sports Fc even managed to win the Carabao Cup in season 2027/28. (Note I had put a fictional manager in charge of TS Sports after I left the club but relinquished all control to the AI from the moment, I left the club. The manager would be real life club legend Dave Hackett.)

My own progression through the game saw me move from TS Sports Fc crowned as League Two Champions to being given the keys to the London Stadium. West Ham were a real learning curve in my save and my only slight regret was that I did not go back to the Premier League before signing the game off. However, I made the conscious decision to keep away from the EPL when I saw TS Sports FC pitting their wits against the English elite. Where I failed to bring silverware to West Ham I did bring a significant improvement of reputation to the club by giving them their first sniff of Champions League football, with a fourth place finish in my first season. However, my head was truly turned when Torino came in with an offer. As noted in one of my earlier posts I had applied for this job back in 2022 and was told that I was a close second in getting the job. When they came knocking, I felt compelled to take the job. Which is where I first brought a third-place finish then two Serie A titles, a Europa League title and a Champions League title. The less said about my brief stint and Italy the better. And I would even say less about my stint in Germany although my time there did allow me time to develop a tactic that would see me smash La Liga and the Champions League.FM19 in my opinion has been a fantastic journey where I have somehow managed to be a club manager in four countries, where I have adapted the playing targets of winning x number of trophies to tactical development through out the game. One of my in-game achievements has been to attempt to play a different tactic at each team I have managed. Albeit because one tactic IMO does not necessarily transfer from one team to the next.

What is install for FM20? At this point I do not have a club or challenge to reveal. I do have a few teams in mind ranging from Athletic Bilbao to Inter Milan, but as yet nothing has been laid a concrete plan. Maybe I should ask the community and run with the most interesting team suggested.

Ciao for now and see you all in FM20.