A Football Manager Story: Remember this thing?

Paul Gilham

Back in December I started a Football Manager save with Tottenham Hotspur. Somewhere along the way I forgot about it, but I've picked it back up and now here it is.

I started this project back in December (See Part 1 and Part 2) and because I am lazy I never finished it, but since the summer time is a bit dull I decided to pick it back up. I couldn't decide if I should start completely over with the database update, which would give me all the January transfers or to continue from where I was. In all honesty, after six months of not having played the save I had a little bit of difficulty picking things back up, but I got the hang of it after a few minutes.

When we left off, I was about to open the Premier League season away to Stoke City. As in real life, this fixture was incredibly difficult, especially when Emmanuel Adebayor complicated things by getting sent off in the 9th minute. Somehow, the team managed to hold on for a scoreless draw. The next three fixtures were all league matches and the team performed much better running off three consecutive wins. All featured slow starts by Tottenham, but second half goals in each game gave Tottenham victories.

The squad really hadn't been tested yet, but we faced a tough test as we headed to Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League. We'd been handed a tough group (Feyenoord and Stuttgart are also in the group) and having to go to Romania for the first match wasn't an easy task. I mixed in several youngsters, handing Tom Carrol, Adryan, and Ademilson starts, while also playing veterans like Brad Friedel and William Gallas. The match was fairly even, but a 76' goal by Steaua put us on the back foot. Fortunately, Gylfi Sigurdsson managed to get on the end of knock-down by Iago Falque to blast home and give my Spurs side a hard-earned draw.

We returned to England to take on Liverpool at White Hart Lane. A Jermain Defoe goal gave my side the victory. We dominated the game. Taking 12 shots to Liverpool's 3, unfortunately the lads managed only three on target. Our next match was in the Capital One Cup against Middlesborough. Jake Livermore scored in the second half to help us advance, but the victory was tempered by an injury to Kyle Walker.

The month wrapped up with a visit to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. My Spurs side was tied for first with Newcastle coming into the match. United were in fourth, but only three points back, which they could make up with a victory. United were without Robin van Persie and Nani. In midfield they were starting Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes, so I couldn't help but feel a little confident. Still, United had to be respected, so I set the team up to, initially at least, play on the counter. Sigurdsson, starting on the right wing in place of the injured Lennon almost put us ahead with a brilliant free kick in the 15' minute, but it sailed just over. From the resulting goal kick, Ryan Giggs hit the bar and the rebound bounced of Jan Vertonghen and past Hugo Lloris for a goal. Just like that we were down 1-0.

I attempted to encourage my team to get on the ball more and take the game to United, but Kyle Naughton, starting for the injured Walker got caught too far upfield and Shinji Kagawa burst down our right flank before centering it to Giggs, who cooly slotted home. At halftime, I turned on my hair dryer, letting the team know their performance was unacceptable. Unfortunately, the speech didn't seem to help Jan Vertonghen's mood, so I made the decision to replace the Belgian with Steven Caulker.

With half an hour to play, not much had changed, so I made the decision to bring on Tom Carroll in place of Jake Livermore, hoping the Carroll's passing would open things up. Things finally started to look up for us in the 70' as Gareth Bale got on the end of a lovely cross from Sigurdsson to give us a lifeline. At that point I made the decision to replace the largely anonymous Adebayor with Defoe. Not much changed though until the 92'. Tom Carroll played a brilliant through ball that Bale took around Rio Ferdinand and then buried in the back of the net for his second of the game. In the end, I felt pretty hard done by the draw, especially considering the freak circumstances surrounding United's opener.

At the end of September, I had my Tottenham team at the top of the table. We hadn't faced a lot of difficult opposition in the league, but matches against Liverpool and United showed that the team certainly had the fortitude required to play against the big boys. Here's a look at how the rest of the table is shaping up:

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And here's how Tottenham's fixture have gone in the first month and a half of the season.

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For my efforts with Spurs, I took home September's Manager of the Month award from the Barclay's Premier League. I wasn't the only person to be recognized for my efforts though, as Sandro was named Barclay's Player of the Month. The month ahead hands us some tricky Europa League fixtures as well as a match against second place Newcastle. Stay tuned to see what happens! Also, if you have any suggestions, questions, or want me to include any different information in forthcoming posts, please let me know!

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