Five *NEW* Challenges in Football Manager 2019. Please Retweet #FM19 #WeAreTheCommunity

I have experienced a love-and-hate relationship with Football Manager 2019. I don't think I am the only one either, as I have seen a lot of people fall out of love for the game, take extended breaks or mention burnout - and it genuinely kills me seeing people switch off and head to Other Games. So, I thought I would spend some time noting down FIVE challenges that could see you get the FM thirst back…

(1) The Dan Gear 7 year Bolivia Challenge

This challenge needs no introduction: Daniel Gear went 7 years without winning a competitive game of football with the Bolivian National Team in Football Manager 2017, thus becoming Daniel Gear [of Bolivia fame] on the cult FM podcast: GrassNGear. Dan set the lofty bar at 7 years, but now it's your turn to play the '7 year Bolivia Challenge' and win a match sooner:

  • Manage the Bolivian National Team from July 2018 in FM19 and win your first competitive match by July 2025.

  • Can you sneak a win against South American giants, such as Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela?

  • Shithouse your way up in the clouds at home (altitude is in FM19) and win against an Argentina or Brazil?

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #7YearBoliviaChallenge.

Recent FM Pioneer: Dan (@DGear86)

(2) Giving a million to a Football Manager YouTuber

Often YouTubers are giving themselves virtual millions to spend in-game. But how about I, FM Grasshopper dot see oh em, invest in a YouTuber with real life monies? This challenge involves depositing a large wad sum of cash into a YouTuber's Patreon or PayPal account, and seeing what happens.

On this basis, I invested a 308 million Vietnamese Dong (£10,000), to see what Paul The Northman did. You won't believe what happened…

(1) He rented his local supermarket for a weekend and walked around in it…naked.

(2) He bought 500 shirts, 200 hoodies and 364 mugs (one for every day of the year), so he’d never have to do household chores again #scenes

(3) He acquired the land of the Vikesa Stadion (Bjerkreim IL) and will host the inaugural ‘FM Fyre Festival’. Coming: 2020, featuring your favourite FM influencers.

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #FMTYVietnameseMillionaire.

Recent FM Pioneer: Paul (@TN_TheNorthman)

(3) Numberless

Cleon81 paved the way in FM19 for playing without attributes. It was innovative and unique, which was quickly adopted by lesser-known bloggers once they caught wind of the approach (See: Oliver Jensen & Dan Gear). But can you go one step further than Cleon: by playing the game without numerical values whatsoever?!?

  • Download the new ultra-realistic FMG 'Numberless' skin from the Steam Workshop (see example screenshots below).

  • Play FM the way it was mean to be played (if this was set in the 1920s), by only looking at players in the match engine and go with your gut instincts.

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #NumberlessFM.

Recent FM Pioneer (traditional attributeless): Cleon (@Cleon81)

(4) Galatico Challenge

Why not start at the very top? It's a perverse thought, I know. But imagine a series like Non-League to Legend without any of the boring lower league nonsense. Straight away you can find yourself at the pinnacle of our sport, competing against the very best teams.

The Galatico Challenge is simple: every signing must break your previous transfer record. Sky's the limit. Can you build a team that rivals the Galatico Project of old? Can you win the UCL in your first season?

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #GalaticoChallengeFM.

Recent FM Pioneer: Joe (@FridayNightFM)

(5) Reverse Moneyball

Moneyball is a concept that has been applied, with various levels of accuracy, to several FM saves over the past few years. But imagine a statistical concept like Moneyball in the reverse: sign defensive players with favourable attacking statistics (such as Dribbles per 90 minutes, or Key Passes), your attackers could be judged on their Tackling success or Interceptions. Go a step further too, judge them on reverse attributes: Defenders with high Flair and Technique or Attackers with strong Positioning and Tackling.

Moneyball encourages shrewd and unbiased signings…so why not flip this on its head too? Combine the Reverse Moneyball Challenge with the Galatico Challenge: sign big, sell cheap. How low can you sell your marquee signings and yet remain in the job? The Reverse Moneyball Challenge may be the one to reignite the passion for FM19.

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #ReverseMoneyBallFM.

Recent FM Pioneer (traditional Moneyball): Jonathon (@JLAspey)

Good Luck!

What else can I say? Whatever you choose, my only request is that you have fun and enjoy Football Manager 2019 in the months we have left.

Thanks in advance for reading/sharing/caring,

FM Grasshopper

"Tactical Tweaks & African Adventures" - Orange Is The New Black #FM19

Season 2021/22

I cannot write about smashing through the glass ceiling, as I have not done it yet!  We’re half way there though, and the good news is that we are on course…just about.  6th in the league and into the Coupe de la Ligue Quarter Finals after besting 9-time winners Paris Saint Germain in Les Parcs des Princes.  Obviously, Ole Gunnar Solskjær remains the common foe; his LOSC lying 5th in the table and a point above Goss’ Lorient.

Our form has been woeful at times, but a strong December has seen us flirt once again with the prospect of qualifying for European football in 2022.  This is my glass ceiling and I really need to break it this time round.


Last time out I delved into the finances, which painted a very stark future for the club.  To counter this I concluded that I would need to sell-to-buy in the Transfer Market.  In addition, I would handle player contracts for new recruits and in player retention.  The first 6 months of this new way of working has been beneficial:

  • Players sold: €13.25m

  • Players bought: €7m

These gains (€6.25m) have been offset slightly by an increase in the player wages:

  • Previous wage total per month [end of Season 3]: €1,570,966

  • Current wage total per month [mid-point of Season 4]: €1,648,286

I don’t need to worry too much, as this will only be temporary as I look to re-adjust the playing squad over the coming transfer windows; with plans to bring through a few academy players (more on that next time out on the blog).  I have however improved the team a fair bit for this current campaign.  Highlighted by the signings of Chris Mepham (€6m) and Alessandro Murgia (€925k loan fee).

Note - you may think it’s crazy to rent-a-player for near a million euros, but I stand by the decision to get Murgia.  Furthermore, his contract is up in the Summer, so hopefully I can convince him to extend his stay and swap Serie A for Ligue Un.

Of course, I’m always sad to see my favourite players depart.  Rivaldo Coetzee was one of these players for me in FM19, and like Fonsinho before him…he was found in Africa and sold to the riches of the Bundesliga.  It’s a €7m profit made on a classy player who put in some stellar performances for Lorient.

His replacement though is my record signing, Chris Mepham.  The Welsh International has been solid at the back and although I rarely judge a signing after 6 months (I like to give them at least a full year), I think I am on to a winner with him:

Chris Mepham, Goss’ record signing and the 1st Celt to join Goss-ball.

Tactical Tweaks


The subsequent change in personnel meant I made some tweaks to my 4141/433 system.  The departure of Fabien Lemoine, my ageing Deep Lying Playmaker on Defend, and the arrival of Alessandro Murgia meant I had a more aggressive and mobile central midfield.  Murgia links up with his Italian counterpart Luca Valzania & industrious Assane Dioussé.  As a threesome, they offer a lot in both defensive, supportive and attacking sides of the game.  It’s quite a powerful engine room at last.

So, I decided to switch to a system of a Regista at DM, A Ball Winning Midfielder (Support) and a Mezzala (Attack).  They press higher and get forward more often, which is good to see.  In fact, they’re so good at it that I’ve removed the Counter Press Team Instruction, as I noticed we were often overly committed in the press.

Quicker transitional play

I have removed the Shorter Passing team instruction, which has been a mainstay in my setup since the start of the save. The change to Standard passing encourages the team to be more varied in passing length and at times move it forward with more penetrative passing.  The reasoning behind this change is largely due to our new attack, which has become younger and more explosive in terms of Acceleration and Pace for 2021/22.  Speed combined with the Pass Into Space team instruction are now our go-to weapons in attack.

The Diallo-Zirkzee-Ponceau share 23 goals between them (all comps) so far this season. Their average age is 20 years!

Above are our attackers, with the preferred front three on the tactics screen. However, I do have the luxury of being able to interchange the wingers often…Jimmy Cabot is good in either the Inside Forward or Winger role…and Alphonso Davies is back! The worst ever FM19 signing (read it here), has been given another chance to shine in Brittany. To accompany him, I’ve brought in fellow Bayern loanee Joshua Zirkzee to compete with Enzo Crivelli up top as the Deep Lying Forward.

The little tweak has brought about some expansive play. I’ve shown one example below, as I see this goal quite often in the Match Engine (Winger Support to Inside Forward to GOAL)…but it also nicely captures all midfield and attacking roles in my setup*.

*It’s also against PSG :-)

We now look something like this going into the final 5 months of the season:

Achilles’ Africa

Two in-game years have passed since I last updated you on my African player recruitment project for FM19. The reasons why I am targeting this continent were laid bare in my introductory post (read that here). To date, 11 African players have been recruited. This might not seem like a lot over three and a half years, but consider that 7 of those 11 have been recruited direct from Africa. This adheres to the postcolonial way French clubs recruit African players in real life, which is what I originally intended to replicate in FM19:

Achilles’ Africa so far: Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal & South Africa.

The standout signings are Mohamed Diallo (Côte d’Ivoire), and Assane Dioussé (Senegal), who have both featured heavily in my side over the last two seasons.  Mo Diallo, a Newgen attacker, signed on a Free Transfer from the famed ASEC academy.  There's a bit of romance for me, as this is the same club that produced Fonsinho…an FM19 player that I hold close to my heart.  After having Diallo for 18 months, there's no doubt that he can be an even better Lorient player than the ‘Fons’: 14 goals, 8 assists in 30 starts so far for FC Lorient. 

Assane Dioussé, on the other hand, was an established named in Ligue 1 when being signed from relegated ASSE in 2020.  He is a versatile midfielder who has the gift of being able to function as the playmaker, the runner or the defensive destroyer in my three-man central midfield.  It's meant he has always found game time in my team, which has helped him attract some clubs from La Liga and Serie A.  For now though, he's part of Team Goss.

The other four guys, recruited direct from the continent on Free Transfers, have rarely featured for Lorient, but they have age on their side and hopefully I can give them minutes over the next couple of years.  They are:

  1. Moses Nyarko (Ghana) - an explosive fullback from Ghana.  Who is understudy to Vincent Le Goff.  23 years old.

  2. Yaw Moses (Ghana) - another Ghanaian who has relatively strong mental attributes, which should help in central midfield.  22 years old.

  3. Mohamed Lamine Khaled (Algeria) - A right sided fullback that had a recent [failed] trial with AS Roma.  Achilles Goss snapped him up and immediately loaned him out to Auxerre for match experience.  20 years old.

  4. Abdou Koné (Senegal) - A raw, but technically gifted teenager who joins us in January 2022 direct from Senegal.  Still undecided on whether he is good enough, but worth a punt.  17 years old.

I’m unsure if any of the above four have long-term futures here, but if I can develop them and move them on…then Monsieur Goss will be happy.

The Future Is Still Orange

I debated for a long time about leaving FC Lorient in this save universe, but after much deliberation, I have decided to extend my stay for another year (until July 2023). Europe is in my sights now and we just have to realise it, I believe the future is still orange.

Thanks for reading/sharing & caring,

FM Grasshopper

"Bastardo At War: Russia” #FM19

Previously in The Bastardo Cinematic Universe, Bastardo invaded Africa with the help of an old friend.

Ángel Bastardo’s bones were old and hard, but they had never felt a chill like tonight.

Russia was a frozen Hell. He left Africa in the hands of his Generals, readying for another war. His Maghrebian loyalist were instructed to increase their Mediterranean naval strength and a further 200 anti-aircraft missiles were to be stationed by the Suez canal. The European Community are merciless in the face of weakness…so Bastardo had to ensure the Republic of La Plata was ready to respond with whatever military action the axis of evil would throw at him.

He was in Russia to meet Ruslan Chepiga, an expert in the dark arts of poisoning & subterfuge. The UN needed to be sent a silent but deadly message…

“Africa is red”.

The Alliance

Ángel Bastardo wasn't the first military dictator Ruslan Chepiga had broken bread with but he was certainly one of the most intimidating. He stood well over 6 foot, built like a prize bull, with slick black hair.

Ruslan fixed his gaze on him and did not falter. "We can take care of your problem, we do this sort of thing all the time. But let me be clear there will be a price, a heavy price, for our expertise. If you fuck with us, we will do, what Russia does, you will not see it coming, you will feel safe, you will probably be smiling at home in your favourite chair, or making love, when the Russian Bear bites".

"Do not threaten me Russian, I have faced down bigger men than you.  I am La Plata" Bastardo reached over for his drink, and Ruslan smiled: "I wouldn't touch that if I were you".

Ruslan grabbed the glass and poured its contents across the pristine mahogany desk, Bastardo smiled as the liquid dissolved straight through onto the carpet below.

"Do we have an accord or not!" the Russian exclaimed.

Ángel Bastardo didn’t have to say anything in return.  Russia would stand with Bastardo.

Russia stands with Bastardo.

FC Anzhi Makhachkala Vs América de Cali

One of the requirements that Bastardo insisted upon as part of his visit to Russia was that Ruslan Chepiga would host a Winter Break friendly against a top European side. If Bastardo was to be spotted by the media, he’d play the disguise of the ex-football manager watching a glamour tie. After all, his 8 years at Estudiantes de La Plata brought worldwide notoriety as a football manager…the European press do well to forget this when branding Bastardo awful terms, such as ‘Dictator’, ‘Mercenary’ & ‘Tyrant’.

The Anzhi Arena: home of ‘The Bastardo Glamour Friendly’.

So, imagine the disappointment for Ángel Bastardo when Ruslan Chepiga introduced América de Cali as the ‘glamour friendly’. Bastardo did not like Colombians, his time at Estudiantes made sure of that. Teams such as Atlético Nacional & Once Caldas had always put up a fight in the Libertadores, and more importantly, they could never be paid off. Their loyalty was solely to Colombia and the drug cartels that financed them.

However, América de Cali though had come a long way to correct its tarnished image from the 1990s, where being owned by the Cali Cartel, under the direction of the Orejuela brothers (aka The Gentlemen Of Cali), meant being placed on the dreaded 'Clinton List'. Their image had improved somewhat since 2018 with the appointment of a young Englishman in the name of Mike According. His América side playing some neat football over the last few years, with a rejuvenated Mateo Cardona pulling the strings from central midfield as a No.10. If there was ever a Colombian team that Bastardo could fall in love with, it could well be According’s Cali.

Anzhi Makhachkala, on the other hand, had a growing reputation for the dark arts of football - another Bastardo love. Ruslan Chepiga would often play a traditional 4141 and keep his wingers behind the ball, ready to counter on the turnover of possession. They were coming into the glamour friendly to boost confidence…after crashing out of the Champions League Qualifiers to FC Zürich of Switzerland. The good news is that the Europa League Group Stages still await: Roma, Sparta Prague and Young Boys the opponents. Chepiga had the love of his people - surviving a one-year transfer ban by blooding Anzhi youth into the First Team and insisting on only recruiting players from the Eastern Block. Anzhi Makhachkala were now seen as the workers' club, which is a far cry from the Anzhi of old, with its over-elaborate transfer policy of the mid-00s.

The Interview

Two managers, two stories in motion: Chepiga & According. Anzhi & Cali. It was time for Bastardo to meet them…

AB: Hola caballeros. How are your teams coming into this match?

RC: We’re in Season 3 right now. The Russian League has started well, the only defeat coming against Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Krasnador. We’ve looked good in other games, especially defensively. Could match 3rd again. Sacrificed the cups in previous two years.

MA: My Cali team are at the mid-point of Season 3. We had our 1st league title in season 1, and since then two domestic Semi-finals. On the continental stage, we’ve has a Semi Copa Sudamericana. Playing quite well in recent weeks, and I’ve stopped rotating as much as I previously was doing. Quite defensive in the league. 8 goals conceded in the first 19 games of the league. Anti-Futbol? Possibly.

AB: Who are your star players?

RC: Player of the season last year was Right winger Savichev: average rating 7.23, 8 goals and 8 assists. Very often he was set free on the right by long cross field passes by my favourite player, Right footed Left midfielder (WM-A) Doston Xamdamov from Uzbekistan. Excited by new signing Glushakov his player traits of gets forward and arrives late in opponents’ box are perfect for my system. 60+ caps for Russia.

MA: Mateo Cardona. No.10, top scorer and assister in the previous season (2019). Joined on a free at the start of 2018. 19 year-old Gustavo Carvajal, América youth prospect and highest potential player in the squad. He plays at DM/CM and is vice-captain and has led the side on many occasions.

AB: Do you have any perceived weaknesses?

RC: Quite often on the left side it can be open. Full back is in space to advance but can be exposed. On the lookout for a better LFB. I’m also limited in the save to players from the former Eastern Bloc so difficult to source replacements. Squad depth isn’t good after first XI, so it’s very limited. I am always too eager to adjust the tactic if you lose 2-3 games.

MA: Too negative football mostly using support roles (I’d rather win 1-0 than 3-1!). We’re quite low scoring and I value a clean sheet above all else. I’m slow on the changes too. We’ve put too much faith in young players or out of form players to turn it around.

AB: Describe your team in up to 5 adjectives.

RC: Blunt & Serious. Our club motto is: “through hard work and skill we shall overcome our foes”. This is what I’m working towards.

MA: Strong, Physical, conservative, robust.

The answers to the above questions left Bastardo worrying about the ambition and quality of these two teams. A 0-0 bore draw was looking likely and Bastardo longed to witness Mendoza-ball again. But would Anzhi Vs Cali play out this way? Let’s find out…

The Match


When a team from one continent meets another it often throws up huge tactical intrigue. Perceptions on how football should be played develop within their national or continental bubbles. National identity and pride therefore directly translate into football, such as the contrasting styles of mentalities (Defensive vs Attacking) and the profile of footballers it creates (Physical Vs Technical). The same contrasting views can be seen when Cali came to Anzhi. Despite both managers painting a picture of hard work & pragmatism, there were subtle intrinsic differences in the players on shown. Form Mateo Cardona's technical mastery to Denis Glushakov’s relentless industry in midfield, this was a match that promised a lot: East meets West. Chepiga Vs According.

Line Ups

Both teams similarly lined up with flat back fours and a central striker. The major difference between the two sides was the midfield, with Chepiga instructing his wide players to play deeper and in line with the central pairing of Konstantin Savichev and Doston Xamdamov. According’s Cali would rather have his wide players more advanced and feeding off Fernando Aristeguieta who was playing as a Target Man upfront.

Key Players

Key players for Anzhi include Ivan Novoseltsev at the back, who is on loan from Zenit Saint Petersburg. Doston Xamdamov is unquestionably the poster child of Anzhi football right now, with good Technique and Vision. If Anzhi were going to win tonight, it would be Doston who’d no doubt feature heavily on the flanks. Lastly, Chepiga’s biggest transfer coup is Denis Glushakov - who has amassed 64 caps for Russia. His drive and experience would be key for Anzhi tonight and Bastardo was looking forward to seeing what he could bring to the team in central midfield.

According’s Cali was equally homegrown. Nicolás Vidal has a presence about him between the sticks with good Aerial Reach and Command Of Area. Fernando Aristeguieta was also one to look out for, after a failed spell in Ligue Un with FC Nantes the Target Man has become a bit of a cult figure in Cali. Aristeguieta has the player traits to suit such a role, and Bastardo was looking forward to seeing how he matched up against Ivan Novoseltsev. The third and final player that Bastardo couldn’t wait to see was Mateo Cardona. A raw and untamed talent that would be playing as a Mezzala on Attack in the centre of midfield.

Defensive Organisation

The subtle differences in the 4141s deployed meant the location of attacking spaces were different for each side. However both teams were overly cautious in the first 45 minutes, and neither team could take advantage in open play.


Chepiga’s Anzhi were extremely disciplined without the ball, keeping their shape with good defensive organisation.


Cardona's artistry

With both teams being so reserved, it’s little wonder that the 1st Half only saw 2 shots on target (1 from each team). Fortunately for According’s Cali, that shot on target came from the right boot of Mateo Cardona…

América de Cali 1-0 (Kvaskhvadze OG, 13 mins).

One of the standout South American bargains in FM19 (available on a Free Transfer in July 2018, if you have South American players loaded) is Colombian gem, Mateo Cardona.  His attributes and overall performance in this year's match engine is perhaps vastly inflated considering he can't keep a club side in real life (at least five clubs in 2 years!).  But under Mike According, Mateo Cardona is the perfect 10…showing incredible guile to put Cali 1-0 up with a glorious freekick.  Cali would lead at Half Time.  Chepiga needed a response.

Second Half

Both teams remained unchanged after Half Time, with Ruslan Chepiga continuing with the flat four in midfield.  Cali on the other hand were looking to exploit the right flank more often, after identifying Doston Xamdamov as a player who often cuts inside.

On the 50th minute, Anzhi Left Back Dmytro Nemchaninov had a horror show to forget.  Losing possession in the attacking third, to Gustavo Carvajal - who had impressed Bastardo through his defensively sound pressing and maturity with the ball.  The young Colombian found the deep lying Target Man, Aristeguieta.  The damage was done as soon as Inside Forward Mayer Vidal had the ball.  His driving run inside from the right flank (as you’d expect) caught the Anzhi backline off-guard.  It was Nemchaninov’s missed interception (his second mistake in the same minute)…meant Mateo Cardona had a chance to smash in his 2nd of the night.  2-0 América de Cali.

América de Cali 2-0 (Cardona, 50 mins).

An Anzhi comeback?

With just under 15 minutes to go, Ruslan Chepiga instructed his team to become more positive, as a counter measure Cali’s response was to go Cautious. This brought about a thrilling climax to an otherwise nervy encounter.

On 82 minutes, under heavy Anzhi pressure, the Cali defensive masterclass finally crumbled. Defensive anchor, David Silva, recklessly bringing down Konstantin Savichev in the area. Penalty Anzhi:

FC Anzhi Makhachkala grab one back: 1-2 (Glushakov 82 mins).

Concentration always plays a decisive factor in the closing stages of any game, and this one was no different. The Anzhi war machine had taken a while to start purring, but with 5 minutes to go there were pockets of attacking spaces opening up to exploit. Below, left sided Centre Back Ivan Novoseltsev picking out a perfect ball to release substitute Advanced Forward, Timur Zhamaletdinov…

Novoseltsev’s options - 85 mins.

Zhamaletdinov’s wasted chance - 85 mins.

Bastardo had been praising Gustavo Carvajal’s defensive displays all game, but on 86 minutes the most insane bit of decision making was used to cynically take out Anzhi’s Taras Puchkovskyi from a defending throw-in. It was a chance for Chepiga’s Anzhi to draw level and make it 2-2…

Gustavo Carvajal’s incredible challenge. 86 mins.

Nicolás Vidal would be the hero, not Denis Glushakov…whose penalty was a disappointment for the Russians.


This match will never go down as a classic, and perhaps not even register in the consciousnesses of most FMers…but it’s a noteworthy entry into Bastardo’s Lore. We had two beautiful moments of Cali play, capitalised ruthlessly by Mateo Cardona’s untamed potential. It’s perhaps “what might have been” for Ruslan Chepiga’s Anzhi. There’s no doubting their work ethic and commitment for the shirt…but they have to be more clinical in future skirmishes. South American flair triumphant this time round: FC Anzhi Makhachkala 1-2 América de Cali.

The Gentleman of Cali

The day's events involving assassination plots, political intrigue and spectating football had left its toll on Ángel Bastardo, he was tired and weary.  Yet he could not sleep.  Wars would do that to a man.  The battles might be over but Ángel would revist them over-and-over again, the men he had killed would be there in the dreams to keep him awake at night.  He knew their faces as well as his own.

The silence in the room was broken however, with a deftly whisper…crisp and sharp like the deadliest of blades.

Ángel” whispered Bastardo’s squire, Pablo Rodríguez, a young man who has made the trip down to Bastardo’s bed chambers late at night.   He continued worriedly, ”Libya has fallen.  All of the Maghreb has fallen”.

Ángel Bastardo’s pause was long and solemn, the anguish in his voice was clear as he grated out the words “El Diego?

Mendoza is in Arabia now.  He’s held up there, it’s where we should go.  The UN and the América are coming for La Plata.  It’s only a matter of time before...

As if by magic, and before Pablo Rodríguez could finish his sentence, Ruslan Chepiga emerged from the shadows in the room.  His voice as cold as the night breeze hitting the window pane: "Sympathetic allies around the world are important for a burgeoning dictatorship my friends. Should you fall on hard times, you have my word, Mike According will help you. Do not hesitate to go back to Colombia with him at this very instance"

Bastardo turned to reach his gun, using the cocking handle as his aim met with Ruslan's eyes.

”Yes, Ruslan.  I’ll go to Colombia, with The Gentleman of Cali.

Pablo & Ruslan nodded as Bastardo holstered the gun onto his hip before careful placing the silkskin blazer onto his broad frame.  All-out war had begun, Africa may fall and many will perish, but Ángel Bastardo had never looked so cool.

Note from the Editor - huge thanks to both Ruslan and Mike for coming on-board the Bastardo bandwagon and moving the story forward.  It was great capturing their match and I hope others find it equally entertaining.  If you do not already, go check out their work.  They are two great FM storytellers who always make time to chat FM and are good guys:

Ruslan Chepiga / @FMEadster -

Mike According / @accordingtofm -

As always, thanks for reading/sharing and caring.

FM Grasshopper

"The Fibra Battleground" - Orange Is The New Black #FM19

FC Lorient Header.jpg

Second season syndrome is the now-common phrase that is used to describe a downturn in fortunes for a football club in its second season after its promotion to the Premier League of English football – particularly if the first season after promotion had brought a strong finish (M.Cheetham 2007. Source:

Season 2020/21

There was a certain amount of trepidation going into my third season with FC Lorient and my second season in France’s top tier.  The old cliché of the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ nestled in the back of my head, but this is France and not England, right?


Despite solid results from our friendlies, we had some awful pre-season luck.  The big news story was ‘The Curious Case of Alphonso Davies’.  Arguably the Ligue 1 Summer transfer coup, as FC Lorient attracted one of Bayern’s wonderkids to North Western France on a two-year loan.  His explosiveness would have given me a different option to the left sided Inside Forward Jimmy Cabot or central Deep Lying Forward Gaëtan Courtet.

But the joy of signing Alphonso quickly turned to tears as he snapped his leg on his pre-season debut:

As the image above shows, I was able to cancel the deal due to de-selecting the defaulted ‘Loan cannot be terminated’ clause when negotiating with Bayern.  Based on my interactions at the time I appreciate this move would not have been made by everyone, fellow FMers like TheFmNewby, James and Dan would have done things differently.  But I simply did not want to pay for Alphonso to sit around injured as my top earner for 5 months.  In just the statutory 28 days, Alphonso Davies had been and gone.  Disaster.

To further the misery in the final week of Pre-Season, Club Chairman Loïc Féry accepted a €13.25m bid from FC Köln for Fonsinho - a player who I signed 18 months previously for €230k.  It’s great profit, from a player who flourished with me in his short spell.  8 goals and 10 assists in his debut Ligue 1 season meant he would be sorely missed in 2020/21.

Fonsinho’s sale and injuries to both Gaëtan Courtet’s (last season’s top scorer) and Jimmy Cabot resulted in us going into the first two games of the season with a completely different three-man attack from last season.  It’s no surprise then that we failed to score in back-to-back 0-1 defeats.  The second season syndrome was now coming to the forefront of my mind as we headed for an inevitable relegation dogfight.

Or were we?

We unequivocally rose up the table, six wins on the bounce after those two defeats. Eleven league wins and six draws, the only blip an away defeat Vs Paris Saint Germain. Take that Ole Gunnar Solskjær!

The Fibra Battleground

Achilles Goss’ Lorient have improved, but how and why?  My immediate thought was to turn to ‘fibra’ as an explanation for the upwardly mobile performances of my team.  As mentioned in my introductory post:

“I don't want to restrict myself in terms of recruitment…like the previous two years.  I will not feel guilty if I want that luxury flair player or tricky winger.  However, I want to get ample fibra in the positions and roles that matter.

[A brief description on the concept of fibra and how I use it as a recruitment strategy was introduced a couple of years ago: here).

So what roles am I trying to fill with adequate fibra?  Answer: the central spine of the team aka the fibra battleground; Central Defence, Central Midfield and the Central Striker role.  These players typically situate themselves in areas on the pitch where you’d want players to show a bit more fight.  It’s no coincidence that, in reality softer, less aggressive players get pushed out wide.  So, for those central roles I am placing great emphasis on the below attributes (that I interpret to encapsulate fibra):

  • Aggression - the willingness to immerse themselves in the physical battle, I always imagine a high rating here is like having the ‘Get Stuck In’ team instruction permanently on.  Highly aggressive players just love to get involved.

  • Bravery - the willingness to put his body on the line for his team.  In the match engine, this is often demonstrated as a goal saving block or that ridiculous defensive recovery.  But it can also be the desire to get on the end of an offensive chance (see example GIF further on in this post).

  • Determination - The desire to dig deep, even in the face of initial setbacks.  A high determined set of players will increase the chances of turning a losing position into a draw or a win.

  • Teamwork - to work within a tactical system and style of play.  Any style, anywhere, is benefited by having players that follow suit.

  • Work Rate - Like the above, any team is benefited from having players who give their absolute everything.  It’s no good having a Ferrari-Maserati engine…to only drive it in 2nd gear.

But after looking at my team’s progression in fibra over the last three years, the gains are minimal:

From a First Team perspective, our collective fibra has been more-or-less steady at a player average of 64-65 fibra over the three years.  We have seen a slight rise though in the ‘fibra battleground’ roles, where we now average 70 fibra per position (out of a possible 100).

However, now that I have money (from the Fonsinho deal and ‘Guerreiro’s Gift’), I can go out and sign some fibra intensive players at long last.  Much of my strong start can be attributed to the late-in-the-day transfers of Enzo Crivelli (81 fibra) & Assane Dioussé (63 fibra) for a combined total of €5.5m.  Both are strong mentally, with the addition of being very good elsewhere (Physically & Technically).  They are also stereotypical Lorient signings too, as both players were picked up from Ligue 2, due to Caen & Saint-Étienne’s relegation in my simulated FM seasons.  I like to think, in save narrative terms, that they have a point to prove in France…and boy are they doing it!  Between themselves, Enzo and Assane have been match winners multiple times this season already…

Enzo Crivelli (81 fibra).

Assane Dioussé (63 fibra).

Enzo Crivelli has slotted straight into our setup as a Deep Lying Forward, he’s making the support role work a bit better due to his traits of dropping deeper and playing with his back to goal. He’s up for the fight, as his debut goal Vs Stade Rennais demonstrates. Fibra, yeh boy…

Enzo Crivelli, 9 goals from 16 starts (all comps). Here is his first…

Assane Dioussé introduction has been similarly impressive, an average rating of 7.26 with four goals and six assists from sixteen starts (all comps). All from a variety of roles: Box To Box midfield, Ball Winning Midfielder & Central Midfield Attack…he can do it all!

There’s been some wonderful passes and exquisite finishes, but Assane Dioussé also does the rough side well.

What’s Next?

As I sit on an overall balance of €1.5m, the club continues to haemorrhage money like it’s going out of fashion.  But we head into the second half of the season with a real chance at securing European football for 2021/22.  This would certainly see us consolidate a secure financial position, perhaps allowing me to fill the team with even more fibra too.  Furthermore, qualification would also be enough to convince me commit to a new contract with FC Lorient (my current deal expires in the Summer).  Can Goss’ Lorient do it?

As always, to find out what happens next on OITNB follow me on Twitter (@FM_Grasshopper), on FM Slack (#fmgrasshopper)…or on here for the next post.

Thanks for reading/sharing/caring.

FM Grasshopper