"Bastardo At War: Epilogue - Ángel” #FM20

Ángel (Chapter 3)

Territories in the Bastardo-Chepiga FM World, at the conclusion of Bastardo At War.

Territories in the Bastardo-Chepiga FM World, at the conclusion of Bastardo At War.

“For the happiness of all mankind Russia requires that this treaty holds, and will not negotiate with you."

Chepiga’s bluntness was a quality that Ángel Bastardo always appreciated, until now. It was true, a debt to the Black Bear had to be paid. After all, it was Russian intelligence that led to Bastardo’s early disappearance on the onset of the Great War of Africa. It was also true that he helped coordinate the swift exit of La Plata’s assets, placing it in real estate and in virtual currencies around the globe. The wealth of Bastardo rose into the clouds of unaccountability. Lavish but untraceable was his wealth. But now Ruslan was here giving orders, in Ángel Bastardo’s continent.

Bastardo bit back “Uruguay?! They are farmers, and they hate me. Best put one of those bullets in me now Ruslan. I will not go”.

“You will” replied Ruslan, as he pushed a small envelope towards Argentina’s Most Wanted. The seal was unbroken and Bastardo recognised its mark immediately: Asociación Uruguaya de Fútbol. Ruslan continued: “Montevideo has long been a neutral port, and the AUF have been clear in their intentions to protect you. There is no love for the Americans there”.

His words sent a chill as Bastardo continued reading the letter. The conclusion: AUF were to make him Óscar Tabárez’s heir, the next u20 Manager of La Celeste.

Ruslan continued: “The Americans will soon close in. Your outpost here is neat, but the Americans won’t hold back like they did with Escobar. They will invade and kill all”.

Bastardo grimaced at the thought of the people dying around him. The foot soldiers he employed had been always disposable, but the Venezuelans? This jungle had changed him.

“I’d take the boy-man Hugo with you too. You will one day need a successor” Ruslan smiled. His dark black hair with hints of grey glistened in the moonlight that filtered into the room.

Bastardo paused. If Hugo goes, so does his nurse mother. He had laid with her twice already, enjoying the warmth of her company each time. But if she goes, then so do her fellow nurses and all the immediate patients they care for too. One-by-one everybody in the outpost would have a reason to join Bastardo in Montevideo.

“He’ll do his duty and remain here”. Bastardo replied. The pain visible on his face as he built the courage to finish his sentence...”Like I’ll do mine and serve the Uruguayans”.

Ruslan slowly nodded with approval, before moving on to the real reason for his visit. “Now your debt Ángel”. His words hissed, the Black Bear poked the Lion. But the lion would bite back.

It was now Bastardo’s turn to pass over an envelope, sliding it across the table...avoiding Ruslan’s glass of vodka.

“Every Colombian shipping lane and eventual destination in Mexico” Bastardo said sternly.

Ruslan unfolded the map and smiled uncontrollably. His eyes studied the potential that Bastardo presented him. The possibility of another continent’s contraband under his control.

There was now a different Ruslan Chepiga in the room. As he rose he folded the map and tucked it into his inside blazer pocket.

Rifle in hand and moving towards the door, he gave one last comment: “The debt is more than paid comrade. Welcome back Ángel Bastardo. The World awaits...”


Bastardo At War - Colombia 2.png

Note from the Editor - Sometimes in stories, you need to go around the houses in order to get to where you want to be. With Bastardo, I wanted another crack at South America…it's honestly the most fun I've had in Football Manager. But in order to get him from Argentina to Uruguay, I took the long road: invasions of Africa, assassinations in Russia and migrants camps in Colombia. But, after a year of doing all of that, we're finally at the stage where we get to see Ruslan Chepiga playing the part of the Greek bearing gifts.

I've got aspirations and desires from what I want out of Football Manager 2020 and I hope my introductory posts will lay the scene for another great save and story. I hope you can join Ángel and I…

FM Grasshopper

"Bastardo At War: Epilogue - Ruslan” #FM20

Ruslan (Chapter 2)

Ruslan Image.jpg

It was pitch black as Ruslan leaned from the side of the helicopter at the huge expanse of Colombian jungle below, the silence only broken by the immense thudding of the KA52 - Alligator's rotor blades.

Fucking Russian GPS, he thought, as they circled their given co-ordinates for a third time. A flicker of light below, no more than a pinprick, through the canopy gave Bastardo away.

As they descended a clearing emerged, their landing was swift. Ruslan was struck by the relatively highly developed infrastructure, communication point, crops, a water tower, Gymnasium, and a relatively large, resplendent administrative building. A sizeable crowd of locals had gathered, Ruslan had faced down much larger groups before, and did not really take them under his notice.

Ruslan exited the Helicopter, as often was the case, the crowd hushed in his presence. His eyes were drawn to a boy, with the gaze of a man full of Fibra, standing before him in defiance. Ruslan had caught this gaze before, he knew he was in the right place.

"Bastardo, Comrade" he whispered in the boy's ear.

I am Bastardo, came the barely audible reply through the noise of the KA52 blades.

It was then the crowd turned, an upwelling of emotion could be felt in the air. Such he hadn't felt since the second Chechen Rebellion in the late 1990s, the hairs on the back of his neck stood erect.

I AM BASTARDO, the crowd cried in unison raising their right arm a loft with clenched fist. I AM BASTARDO! they called again, with such force that Ruslan took a step back as their call to arms echoed through the dark valley.

A volley of shots fired into the air from his Kalashnikov managed to disperse the crowd momentarily, apart from the boy-man. Ruslan sighed heavily, as the youngster drew a pistol, safety still engaged, and raised it to the general's head. The boy was shaking, beads of sweat running down his face, but he did not yield, Ruslan paused..

"HUGO - stop!"

The dark silhouette of a man emerged from the shadows; it was Bastardo. He finished his Cigar with one long draw, and slowly approached Ruslan.

"Keep calm, these men are friends." He called, his gruff voice piercing the cool night air.

The two men, completely encircled by locals, greeted each other as brothers and shook hands vigorously.

"I knew one day you'd come here." Bastardo murmured in Ruslan's left ear.

"Debts must be paid Ángel." Ruslan replied his tone as deep as it was sinister.

"Bastardo always pays his debts, my Russian friend, please, come inside for a drink."

The two men sat opposite one another, Bastardo lit a cigar, Ruslan rolled his own cigarette and placed his rifle on the table. The room was lavish by the standards of the others Ruslan could see; there were scantily clad women and servants stood in its four corners. The men toasted each other and the Motherland.

"It's over Bastardo, the Americans have agreed not to pursue you any further. Russia has negotiated a peace treaty with the UN."

"Fantastic! I will reign once again, hahaha, come Ruslan why delay, is Mike According here, when do we leave for La Plata?" Chortled the Argentinian dictator.

"Ángel, no, I fear you have not understood the situation, you are to be sent to Uruguay, and there you must stay. You must gather your most trusted men and leave immediately. For the happiness of all mankind Russia requires that this treaty holds, and will not negotiate with you."


Note from the Editor - I initially planned to write the Ruslan Chepiga piece, but it always felt I was intruding on the fabulous character created by Chris Eadie (@FMEadster). So, I got Eadie on board.

My aim was always to show the same scene laid out in Hugo, but with subtle viewpoint differences. It highlights that we all see the same thing but naturally put bias and prejudice on things. Well done to Chris for taking this on board and executing it with perfection.

We also finally see the great man himself: Ángel Bastardo. Our anti-hero of the story, and our viewpoint in the conclusion to Bastardo At War…

"Bastardo At War: Epilogue - Hugo” #FM20

Hugo (Chapter 1)

Venezula.JPG

My name is Hugo Ojeda.  I am fifteen years old.

I did not know what hyperinflation was before my mother and I were kicked out of our home.  To me it is the same as everything else in Venezuela: chaos.  We spent weeks on food supplies after seeing whatever money we had turn worthless overnight, the price of a banana exceeding that of the cars outsides.  Even the supermarkets refuse to put the price on things anymore.  My country, the one with all the oil, has given up.  Worthless.

So my mother and I walked to Colombia.  Like so many others did, over 1 million in fact, desperate for another chance in life.  It took weeks, perhaps even months to get to the frontier near the Colombian city of Cúcuta.  A small jungle outpost where we would be told to make our homes.  It was here where I first met Ángel Bastardo.

He never spoke about what he was before coming here.  But many people tried to guess: convict, drug dealer, government official, humanitarian…some even suggested he was an ex-Football Manager turned military dictator.  But I never cared to find out, Ángel Bastardo looked after us.  All of us.  For me, he was our guardian angel; a gift from God.

Bastardo had the outpost secured so that raiders couldn’t get to any of us or our supplies, even if they had dared to try.  It was said that the Colombian jungle now belonged to Bastardo, that he could see through the eyes of the trees and was always a step ahead of whatever came for us in the dark.  He saw everything.  In three months of turmoil, it was the happiest I had ever been.  I slept well.

Until 06 June.  The day when they came…a helicopter descending on the village at 0200 in the morning. The winds from the helicopter's blades rippled through the gymnasium's large bay windows where I, and around 50 others slept each night, my naked body exposed as the bed covers danced in the ballet of the night.  I was terrified.

There was panic, as villagers raced from the hall and into the village square.  A wall of people stood in front of Bastardo's offices to face the visitors from the sky.  Once scantily dressed, I headed for the same square whilst loading the pistol that Bastardo had previously given to me.  I remembered his words to me on receipt of this gift: "a gun in hand is better than a cop on the phone".  I needed to summon what he called 'fibra', as I saw soldiers exiting from either side of the helicopter doors.  They were shouting in a tongue I had never heard, neither Portuguese or Spanish.  These were aliens.

One word could be made out though: "Bastardo".  They wanted Bastardo, and they continued to shout it loud.  With their rifles pointed towards the crowd they abruptly stopped the shouting as a smaller man, with a thick head of black hair, exited the helicopter.  I remember the noise around the square quieting as the shadowy figure walked up to the crowd.  This is where I brandished the pistol, facing him with him in the sights of my gun.  But he was unfazed by the threat, "Bastardo comrade" he whispered to me, his accent clear enough to distinguish the two words.  This man was Russian, who I now know to be Ruslan Chepiga: Superior Agent of the Russian Federal Security Service and liberator of the African world.

I was scared, like everybody else, expecting to be fired at.  That's when I did something that I still can't quite fathom: "I am Bastardo" I replied proudly.  The words resonated with all of us, individually we were nothing but a government statistic: 1 million unwanted Venezuelan immigrants…with Bastardo we had become something better: a community.  "I am Bastardo" people started to cry out; men, women and children joined the chorus of cries.  This time I cried out louder in defiance:

"I am Bastardo"

And again:

"I am Bastardo"


Bastardo At War - Colombia 2.png

Notes from the Editor - So, we’re back with some creative writing to move the Bastardo storyline forward. This is the first entry of a trilogy of short posts around the same scene, but from three different viewpoints.

‘Hugo’ took a few different iterations before I finally settled on the Point Of View of a 15-year-old Venezuelan migrant. What that country is going through right now is shameful. But perhaps what is more shameful is the International Community who are not ‘doing enough’ to help in my opinion.

Save The Children

Football Manager 2019 (#FM19) - in retrospect feat. @KeysiRensie

Today’s post is a collaboration with good friend Keysi Rensie, a fellow FM Blogger and long-term Football Manager player.  You can go read his FM writing over at mrkeysirensie.wordpress.com…I put anything he does in the same class as Czech Beer & Tomáš Rosický, so please check it out.


Intro

Football Manager titles often get reviewed after only a few hours of meaningful game-time. You’ll no doubt see the same thing happen over the next couple of months in the mainstream games media. The headline inclusions in Football Manager 2020 will be written about briefly, but little is discussed in the way of longevity and value for money…simply because those guys/girls reviewing are not sure how a title such as Football Manager holds up after 500+ hours.

But our retrospective look at Football Manager 2019 can do that. We’ve both played the game since launch, and although it’s nowhere the levels of some ardent FMers, it should be enough to give an honest and accountable review of 2019’s edition. It’s worth noting too that I am still learning, it was only yesterday (at the time of writing) that Keysi discovered that shirt numbers could be withdrawn with the retirement of a club legend. So we’ll therefore be documenting a FM19 few discoveries.

Lastly, I (Grasshopper) wanted to pay homage to a few creators who have gone out of their way this year to produce stand-out Football Manager content. We are quite blessed with the sheer amount of varied content available, whether it be literature, live streams or video. Although I can’t recommend every bit of content I’ve enjoyed this year, I feel the creators I mention merit recognition in this blog post.


Football Manager 2019 Review

Let’s get straight into it. How does Football Manager 2019 stack up to the previous 14 titles in the Football Manager series? Well, we’ve decided to answer this over three sections: Match Engine, New Features & Overall Gameplay.

Match Engine

Grass - “It’s my view that the match engine is the most important part of any Football Manager game. Get it wrong, and the rest of the game all feels a bit meaningless. For the best part of 2-3 months I think the match engine was poor. The attacking movement in Strikers all seemed a bit ‘samey’, and attacking support roles didn’t function as intended.

Blatant exploits existed in the match engine too, and although I normally I try to stay well clear of them, they were unfortunately easy to encounter this year through set pieces such as corners, free kicks and throw ins.

It caused a little hiatus for me as a creator, only briefly until it was all patched…but enough to cause a break from the game. I think it’s here, at this point in time, where others also found it hard to be attached to Football Manager 2019 too.

But things did improve, the glaring obvious stuff was patched and Football Manager 2019 returned to my life. Earlier than the official patch too, as I opted to use the FM19 Open Beta (an opportunity available to all, but not well publicised).

Now in August 2019, the match engine is solid and although I continue to see a lot of people moaning, I think maybe the perils of the first few months tinted people’s prejudices of FM19 for good. It’s for this reason that my Match Engine review scores: 6/10”.

Click here to take you to the FM19 Public Beta thread…

Keysi - “I'm not sure which video it was, but I remember one of the best-suited sentences about FM19 (in my eyes/ears) when watching a JimG video from his Piacenza save.

He played some league match and he just said: "Oh no, that's a long highlight, we will probably concede."

He was right, he conceded about 5 seconds after it and he was defeated.

I remember this also because of one simple thing. Despite I tried several formations during FM19 with different player roles, I spent the most time with the 4-3-3 formation with a flat central midfield. The most attacking players usually were Inside Forward/Attack on the left side, Winger/Support on the right side and Complete Forward/Support upfront. And it led to the fact the match engine offered me the same things all the time. It's not (probably) the game’s fault, it's my fault because I tend to play very similar football and it doesn't matter if it was with CD Magallanes in the first part of the save or with Arsenal de Sarandí later.

I cannot recall the name of the game from the late '90s of the 20th century, but there was a game with only 5 different playing situations during viewing match so you exactly know what will happen. And FM19 was the same for me.

Every time my right defender got the ball, I knew he will pass it to one CM(S), he will pass it to the winger and inside forward or complete forward will score. If defenders will put the ball out of the box, there will be two central midfielders and one of them will shoot.

I always know when there is a long ball from the opponent and one of my defenders trying to catch the ball at the sideline, he will make two more steps when the ball was stopped, opponents' striker will take the ball and will go alone and scores.

Football Manager became predictable "thanks" to FM19 and there were times when I was pissed off by it despite, I spent more than 1,300 hours with the game. Match Engine review scores: 5/10

New Features (Tactical Styles & Training)

Grass - "I think FM19 did a good job of providing greater clarity and control for players, and this can be demonstrated with the introduction of Tactical Styles and Training.

Tactical Styles - I always felt the tactical interface was a bit clunky, you only have to go back to FM18 and see all the Team Instructions in the same screen to appreciate that this may have been a turn off for newer players. What we have now are instructions separated for each phase of the game, meaning that both new & veteran players alike can benefit from a cleaner interface, which can benefit the thought process behind tactic building.

FM19 Tactical Styles - did they help you?

However, it's not all top marks for this new feature. Personally, I feel that the style templates used in FM19 contain too many team instructions. I rarely used them in my Orange Is The New Black series as I felt they diluted any particular style that I wanted to play. One workaround is taking a style and then stripping it back a bit, my FM19 article with Guido around hybrid styles could help with this.

Training - Top on the list for a lot of FMers was seeing an improvement to the training modules and FM19 delivered this. FM19 allowed players to customise their programme with 3 sessions a day based on the demands of the season. We can see the impact of what each session will bring to player's attributes, injury risk, overall condition & sharpness.

What I like about this new feature is that a lot of thought and work went in to it, which is surprising because FM features generally only get fleshed out in their 2nd or 3rd years in the game. There is also a lot of real-world thought behind it too, and I noticed this organically after playing season-after-season in FM19. For example, me discovering the importance of getting your pre-season right, ensuring that it's heavy enough for players to last the distance of the whole campaign…especially if you juggle both domestic and continental games.

Despite all of the above, I am unsure if it 'gripped' a lot of players. From looking in on a few discussions, either on FM Slack or on Twitter, it seemed like others found it too complicated. This really highlights the tightrope that Sports Interactive has to tread, finding a new feature that hooks in the majority of players: new and old.

On reflection, I feel FM19 delivered enough sizeable new features to merit the release price of around £30. I score it 7/10".

Keysi - “The new tactical styles and already prepared tactics are nice ideas to find new FM players. I saw some FIFA YouTuber as he uploaded video as he decided to play FM properly after many years, he always received the new edition from SI but didn't play it as it was complicated in comparison with FIFA career mode.

He learned quickly thanks to tactical styles and it was interesting for some time to follow him. But as it was mentioned above by FMG, these styles include too many team instructions in my eyes too. And some of the role combinations are too weird to me as well. But it could be also because I live on my own (tactical) world.

I tried some of these styles during beta version but I didn't like instructions/roles combinations in most of them and rather created my style from the clean slate. But for the new players, it can be helpful. I am not the one who would like to have perfect formations prepared in the game by developers but there is still to work on these styles. Mainly to not confuse players in my eyes.

Training in FM19 allowed you to play in 3 ways: (1) Full-on control, (2) Simplified ‘tweaker’ and (3) Hands-off. Which one were you?

The new training system is a good starting point. It's probably one of the top 3 things I enjoyed the most in FM19. It's not 100% perfect and some of the sessions have a very small effect but it's 100% better than the old system without any system.

The same applies to mentoring despite it also needs big improvements and tweaks but there were not 17 years old driven/professional newgens after a half-year of tutoring.

I didn't let my assistant create schedules or set the training sessions. I made it all by myself and it was a good change in a combination with individual training focus. I liked to spend some time reading what the exact session means and affects and combine it with others. In the last season of my save, I for example created completely new weekly schedules and they contained mainly technical and physical sessions without prematch sessions. I didn't have enough time to test it but I felt it had a positive effect on our performances in terms of attacking fluidity.

I hope it will be improved in the future.

Score: 7/10.”

Overall Gameplay

Grass - "Starting with the positives…I like purple. The colour scheme and default skin were enough to prevent me from downloading a custom one during FM19. Although the interface remains unchanged in FM19 from previous FMs, I appreciate the little tweaks you could now do. Particularly in custom views in the squad screen, the separators make such a difference!

On a critical note, firstly there are things in FM19 that were still sloppy. We know that set pieces could do with a complete overhaul, and I am sure my Czech friend will say the same below with more tactical nuance & insight. Secondly, there are real problems with network saves having divergence…which is unacceptable given that most gamers now expect a robust online experience from game titles.

These two areas could be looked at for future titles, as for some players there are critical experiences. Therefore FM19 isn't a perfect title, but overall gameplay is rather a solid continuation of the previous iterations: 6/10”.

Keysi - “The overall feel from FM19 is affected by many small things and some of the many FM players don't even recognise or they don't even know they are in the game or they don't use them.

Many small things I like to use had some issues. The screen with player stats of the league your teams participate in was constantly resetting in terms of 10 customisable widgets. And when you use the Screen Flow to check specific competitions/stats and you always have to rearrange the widgets, it's annoying and you give up.

I was happy when the sidebar got a customisation option and I was able to make it by my own. Until I realised the sidebar resets every time you have a youth intake so you have to make it again. And things like these were many in the FM19. Every time I set something and I was happy with it, it was reset.

The set pieces are a separate chapter. They were exploited and overpowered when the game was released. It was raised by a lot of people and something was changed BUT. During the course, the game was able to create exploited routines by itself. It was enough to rotate the squad and most routines were changed as the game put two players as takers and AI defence was unable to do the most important thing - defend. In the end, I really don't know why set pieces were in the FM19 as you were able to dominate set pieces stats even with default routines and without any effort to create something.

The most annoying thing to me, to finish this part, was, that despite many these small bugs were raised in the SI Forum many months ago, they are still not fixed. One example of many - SI released the winter transfer window update and some things were fixed. There was also a note that "Fixed issue where player marking edge of area at set piece doesn't always engage ball player who receives it outside area". But my player with the best-required attributes for this role is a statue on the edge of the area.

Despite spending a lot of time with FM19, it was not as enjoyable as previous versions because many things worked even worse than in the past. 5/10.

So, taking the Grass-Keysi scores and averaging it out: Football Manager 2019 scores 6/10. Well done?


Things I learnt in Football Manager 2019

(1) At-a-glance analysis (credit: Grass…by complete accident)

This has probably been in the last few editions of FM, but I shamefully only discovered it this year. Since then, I’ve found it useful at Half-Time when checking the shape of my side and whether the opposition are also putting players in pockets of space that I leave open. Similarly, if I see an opening then it’s something I will consider attacking in the second half.

(2) Distribute To Position (credit: @FMPressure)

I (Grass) did not know this! The FM interface defaults to Area/Position for the Goalkeeper…but you can also select the specific position. Do you have that Ball Playing Defender at CB that you want to launch counter attacks from? Or go long for the Target Man up-front…then this feature is for you.

(3) Sort your contracts out quicker… (credit: Grass…in shame)

Another one from me (Grass), how did I only just encounter this? It will not massively change the way you play, but it’s handy nevertheless…

(4) Secondary sort in FM columns… (credit: @VincentGuzman_)

Say you want to order a list of attributes by a particular attribute, it’s easy…just click on it. But what if you wanted to place important to another attribute in addition? Easy: just hold shift and click on another attribute (once for ascending and twice for descending). Mind blown.

(5) Retiring shirt numbers (credit: Keysi…or Chocobar?)

We found the one very nice addition to the game almost at the end of the FM19 cycle. I had a captain Agustin Chocobar in Arsenal de Sarandí squad and he decided to retire after 14 years with the club. And that was the moment when we found out the "Retire number" option.

It's straight in the mailbox and when you go to Squad/Numbers the retired number is greyed out same as the name of the player.


Recommended content (from Grass)

With Football Manager 2019 came good content. There are too many good pieces to list, but I thought I would give a few shoutouts to the guys that have lasted much of the course with FM19. Producing content for the majority of the FM life cycle is actually harder than it looks, it’s also fairly difficult as a consumer of FM content to trust in creators. But I am reasonably confident that the guys below will be around into 2020 producing words, videos or streams.

Blogs

@FMEadster - fmeadster.wordpress.com

fmeadster.wordpress.com - the home of socialist blogging since 2018.

It’s hard to promote bloggers without me sounding like I am promoting my mates. Especially ones I have wined and dined with like @FMEadster, who I flew over to Essex back in March 2019 to celebrate the release of Bastardo At War: Russia. Chris is a top, top guy and a wonderful writer too. He has kept his save going all year round and touches on geo-political and historical themes that send me giddy. Are you surprised that a woman vacated her table next to us during our meal? Tales of skirmishes along the Crimean Peninsula & Bastardo’s cocaine trafficking routes were a bit too much for her.

@FM_Samo - fmsamo.com

One of the most consistent writers about, perhaps even the most consistent, is FM Samo.  The blogs here often delve into Samo’s thought process & decision making and FM19 was another solid year for him in Portugal.  What I like is that everything feels realistic in Samo’s saves, if there is club growth it’s not accelerated by exploitive measures.  The clubs he manages grow naturally under his stewardship, and I like that.

@KeysiRensie - mrkeysirensie.wordpress.com

Imagine being that talented that you can write in another language and hold your own in a debate when a blogger, like me, gives you grief on FM Slack. Keysi Rensie is the man. Like Samo, Keysi’s posts often act as a way of showcasing decisions and approaches to playing Football Manager. I am yet to find a blog posts he publishes that doesn’t engage me and I know he has ‘inspired’ a lot of people to start blogging. His site often hosts and promotes the work from others like Rickie (@blackcaesar_a5) & Mike (@Brazier25), which is great to see.

YouTube

@JimG - youtube.com/JimGFM

JimG is an FM YouTuber. You should have heard of him by now. Why? Read on.

Visual content isn’t really my thing, but Jim’s series with Piacenza is phenomenal. You can tell he enjoyed it too, an early adopter of the YouTube Premier…he’s immersed a lot of people into his save by just playing the game and sharing his story. The editing is first class, and as a Blogger I can’t really understand how he does some of the things he does: pure magic. Like a blog though, you can go back and consume it all again and again on his channel. I encourage you to do the same…

@ProudieYT - youtube.com/c/proudie

Credit: my GP Benjy for supplying the photography of a young Proudie.

Like Jim, Chris is really good on the editing front. What he does differently to most FMYTers is that he makes his videos short and snappy. He often makes his videos to my visual attention span (around 10 mins), probably unintended but massively appreciated by me…because they are brilliant. He has a comedic style but at the same time gives you enough context to keep you engrossed about his save. He’ll be back at University soon and that, quite rightly, will be his focus for a bit. But if he does produce content, go out of your way to watch it…

@DatGuyJayCee - youtube.com/DatGuyJayCee

“I should not like this guy”. “I should not like this guy”. That same phrase goes round my head whenever I watch a JayCee video. Why? Because they are clearly mental. His humour is like my elder brothers’ style, something I have spent 30 odd years ignoring and dismissing, but whatever JayCee has brings me back. Quite rightly he is getting some attention now, and he’s had a really good run over FM19 with producing videos. He is also the cover star of Football Manager 2020, check him out…

The Soap King?

Streaming

@MozzaPlays - twitch.tv/mozzaplays

I think FM18 (2017/18) was a breakthrough year for FM Streaming, Twitch seemed to be the go-to platform to head to. Perhaps it’s me being detached from streaming over FM19 but it feels like the streaming hype plateaued somewhat. However, if I were to shoutout two FM Streamers…it would be two guys I’ve watched over FM19. First up: Derek/Mozza Plays. Maybe it’s because he plays like a blogger: chilled and relaxing or that he’s just alright. Check the wee lad out.

WARNING: things do take a turn for the worse though when he gets together with JayCee, which is probably the best bit of Non-FM content two FM visual creators have made over 2018/19 …

@Darrylips - twitch.tv/darrylips

My Director of Podcast, Dan Gear, managed to coax Darryl Saunders into appearing on ep28 of the GrassNGear podcast back in March. Personally, he came across really well and was a joy to have on. Since then, I’ve dipped in to a few more of his streams and you can see the passion he has for the highs and lows of Football Manager! I’ve labelled him as a streamer here, but like the talented man he is…he also FM Youtubes. I’ve enjoyed his ‘Caen I Kick It?’ series (despite the mispronunciation to form the titular pun):


FM Slack

A lot of the discussions I have been involved in over FM19 has been found on FM Slack. You can join FMSlack via THIS link. Keysi’s channel is #fmrensie but there are many other interesting channels to talk about FM…there is also #fmgrasshopper. Personally, I gain great insights in how others play Football Manager or view Football itself and would encourage anybody willing to give FM Slack a go.

Lastly, I would like to thank Keysi for his opinion and thoughts around FM19. This is my last #FM19 post, and I am glad he agreed to spend it with me looking back at the latest FM title. Děkuji vám :-)

Thanks for reading/sharing & caring.

FM Grasshopper

"Life After Goss" - Orange Is The New Black #FM19 #AllezLesMerlus


Intro

Achilles Goss is not dead. I thought I would clarify that and dispel certain rumours that were floating around the FM scene. Instead of being dead, Goss is seeing out the final years of his life with an active subscription to Canal+, whilst watching as many FC Lorient matches as possible with the accompaniment of red wine and carer Renée at his side.

This post is a simulation of 5 seasons without Goss at the helm of FC Lorient. Would the club continue to punch above its weight in European competitions? Or would it fall back into mediocrity? Read on to find out…


Season 8 (2025/26)

Manager: Ernesto Valverde

Life After Goss started with the appointment of ex-Barca manager Ernesto Valverde, a surprising coup for the Breton club. Valverde signed a one-year deal and was tasked with managing the club through their 1st appearance in the Champions League Group Stage. Valverde's first move was to appoint 21-year-old Brazilian 'Nivaldo' as the club's 1st choice captain, a surprising move considering he was only signed 12 months ago by Achilles Goss.

Valverde's trust in youth was apparent with the Newgen signings of Apolônio & José Henrique from Brazil and an emphasis on playing a young back-line of Julien-Richard-Gaudin-Rolland (average age of 22). Old boys Josuha Guilavogui & Mamadou Sakho were sold to Major League Soccer for under €1m. The club returned to a 4-3-3 under Valverde, with captain Nivaldo pushed further forward as a Winger.

It was a great season for the club. Finishing second in their Champions League Group, FC Lorient went out at the 1st Knockout Round to eventual Semi Finalists Liverpool. A 4th place league finish saw Valverde’s team qualify for the 2026/27 Europa League and there was also a Coupe de la Ligue Final to shout about too! PSG winning 2-0 though, meaning three successive final defeats for Les Merlus in FM19.

League finish: 4th

Continental: Champions League 1st Knockout Round

Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Slavko Vucetic (22 goals), Yannis Hanany (11 assists), Mohamed Diallo 7.29

Other Comments: Chairman Loïc Fery finally sold the club in 2025 on the 5th attempt. French-Tunisian Businessman Anis Lacroix led the consortium and became the new Chairman.

Ernesto Valverde became the first foreign coach at FC Lorient in 24 years (since Ángel Marcos in 2001).


Season 9 (2026/27)

Manager: Jocelyn Gourvennec

New season, new manager. For the third successive campaign, FC Lorient opened the season with a different manager. Ernesto Valverde moved back to La Liga to manage Athletic Bilbao. In his place, ex-Lorient youth player Jocelyn Gourvennec took charge…who immediately made changes. High-profile young French stars Mateo Julien & Phillipe Gaudin left for a combined fee of €77m to RB Leipzig. Gourvennec kept with the 4-3-3 and recruited some experience in the backline: Ivan Ordets & Aymeric Laporte joining from Shakhtar Donetsk & Manchester United respectively.

But it was January when the big sale would happen: Mohamed Diallo sold to Tottenham in a deal that could rise to €86m…vomits

Mo Diallo at Spurs - a truly sickening sight.

Wow - an incredible season for FC Lorient. The return of Champions League football was something I did not see coming under AI management. Not only that, a solid run in the Europa League (reaching the Quarter Finals before bowing out to AC Milan) and two domestic cup finals (French Cup & Coupe de la Ligue) to gloat about too. Sadly both cup finals were losses against Carlo Ancelotti’s PSG, which means it’s now five cup final defeats in nine seasons in FM19…truly heart-breaking!

League finish: 3rd

Continental: Europa League Quarter Final

Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Slavko Vucetic (20 goals), Alessandro Murgia (9 assists), Aymeric Laporte 7.19

Other Comments: Concerns grow regarding the wage structure, with five Lorient players now earning over €300k per month. Something unheard of during the Goss-era.


Season 10 (2027/28)

Manager: Jocelyn Gourvennec

Beating Beşiktaş home and away in the Champions League was enough for Gourvennec’s Lorient to drop into the Europa League. This meant another Quarter Final appearance under Gourvennec, before the journey ended against the World’s richest team: RB Leipzig. The German outfit selling €150m of talent to PSG the previous summer, including long-term Goss target Luc Tournier. It also meant a happy reunion for ex-Lorient boys Mateo Julien & Phillipe Gaudin.

Two-time French Cup winner in FM19, (with Brest and Olympique Lyonnais), Jocelyn Gourvennec would leave FC Lorient at the end of Season 10.

FC Lorient finished in 6th place, resulting in European football for the 7th season in a row next year. Yet it wasn’t enough to persuade Jocelyn Gourvennec to stay on as manager, who resigned in July 2028. In his place came Romain Brégerie, a French Centreback who played most of his career in the German Bundesliga 2. Since retiring in FM19, he has managed both Ligue 2 Auxerre and Spanish lower league Alavés for 8 month stints each. I can’t help but feel I am looking at the start of a downward ebb for FC Lorient…

League finish: 6th

Continental: Europa League Quarter Final

Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Slavko Vucetic (13 goals), Nikita Ozdoev (15 assists), Nikita Ozdoev 7.06

Other Comments: Academy Wonderkid from the Goss-era, Alex Rolland was sold to Olympique de Marseille for a measly €6.5m. Awful business.


Season 11 (2028/29)

Manager: Romain Brégerie

Throw all your doubts about Romain Brégerie out of the window, this was FC Lorient’s best ever season. The second half of the league campaign saw his FC Lorient side win 14 league games, with only 2 league losses in 2029. FC Lorient romped to 3rd position again with their highest ever points total; 83 points! FC Lorient will once again return to the Champions League. Brégerie signed no players either, Slavko Vucetic continued to shine (his 5th season as Les Merlus’ top scorer) as the focal point of a new 4-2-3-1 system. In this team, Yannis Hanany & Alessandro Murgia played as the deeper double pivot…contributing to 15 goals and 25 assists between them.

Not only that, Romain Brégerie had done what Achilles Goss, Ernesto Valverde & Jocelyn Gourvennec could not do: win a trophy! The Coupe de la Ligue was won with 3 first-half goals in a 3-2 Vs Bordeaux.

In Europe, the club continued to be a Europa League Quarter Final team: losing to AC Milan, as they did two years previously in Season 9.

League finish: 3rd

Continental: Europa League Quarter Final

Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Slavko Vucetic (23 goals), Yannis Hanany (18 assists), Slavko Vucetic 7.24

Other Comments: In other news, Mo Diallo won African Football of the Year for the first time. His Ivorian countryman, and ex-Lorient forward, Fonsinho made the switch from Köln to Bochum, who currently play in the Bundlesiga 2.

Fonsinho in 2029, powers on the wane.


Season 12 (2029/30)

Manager: Romain Brégerie

After 326 appearances for the club, Goalkepper Raúl Rivera moved on to AS Monaco for €14m. Here was me thinking that this would finally mean Romain Brégerie’s game was up…but no. Another great domestic campaign, with the club retaining Champions League football into the 2030/31 season. It was another case of Brégerie’s Lorient hitting form in the second half of the season too, with 13 wins, 1 draw and 4 losses.

In the Champions League, Les Merlus finished 2nd in a group containing FC Bayern, FC Porto & Lokomotiv Moscow. In the next stage they went out, as they did 4 seasons ago, to Liverpool.

But there was another cup final! The seventh FM19 cup final would not be as successful as the sixth, FC Lorient losing out to AS Monaco 3-2 after extra time in the French Cup.

Romain Brégerie has overseen two 3rd place Ligue 1 finishes and a Coupe de la Ligue win in his two seasons at Lorient.

League finish: 3rd

Continental: Champions League 1st Knockout Round

Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Slavko Vucetic (17 goals), Nikita Ozdoev (19 assists), Slavko Vucetic 7.08

Other Comments: 25-year-old ex-Lorient Academy Left Back Matteo Julien is capped for France, now at VfB Stuttgart. PSG also win their 7th straight Ligue 1, equalling the record set by Lyon (2002-2008):

It will come as no surprises but the Manager of the Year award has remained in Paris for the last 7 years.


Who managed Lorient better?

It’s been 10 years with FC Lorient back in Ligue 1…the question nobody is asking, but me, is: who managed Lorient better during this golden decade? I’ll leave you, the reader, to make your own mind up with a series of graphics:

League Finishes 2020-2030

Cup Finals 2020-2030

Manager Statistics

So are you #TeamGoss, #TeamValverde, #TeamGourvennec or #TeamBregerie? To be in with a chance of winning a copy of FM20 that I won’t be giving away, simply let me know which manager you preferred at the helm of Brittany’s most amazing club. I would love to hear people’s thoughts.

Oh, and even if we disagree…I think we can agree that they’re all better than Ligue 1’s all-time most average manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Now managing the arch-enemy in Brittany:

OGS in FM19, nemesis to Goss.


Fin

I did a similar projection back in FM16, where I simulated 10 seasons after my time with Grasshopper Club Zürich.  I remember feeling a bit downbeat about how the AI had butchered things at the club I spent a whole decade at.  Although this look forward in FM19 is a lot shorter in seasons than FM16, I am really positive about how well the AI has done.  There’s a temptation to sim even more, in order to see if Lorient’s young manager can keep up his bright start.  But I like ending Orange is the new Black on such a vibrant high.

I think these two concluding posts (today's look forward and last week's look back) have shown that PSG & Monaco aren’t going away anytime soon.  There is a, dare I say it, “concrete ceiling” above FC Lorient in terms of further progression.  The two super clubs continue to outspend most of Europe, let alone those clubs in France! 

Despite this, Achilles Goss can die a happy man…whenever that may be.  He's seen FC Lorient reach the Champions League on a number of occasions and he saw his beloved Les Merlus lift a trophy!

Orange is the new Black and this is the end of the story.

FM Grasshopper / Achilles Goss