Football Manager – Bowing Out and Moving On

Previously, on Football Manager…

So last time out I was regaling you all with how I had just won the 2016/17 Champions League title, and narrowly missed out on the Premier League title. I’d ‘played the system’, as it were, to ensure Barcelona were managerless going into the final of the Champions League, and thus were easier to beat. It was sweet vengeance for the previous season’s defeat.

Moving into the 2017/18 season, I wanted to try and build upon the foundations I had laid.

2017/18

Once again Luis Suarez and Giuseppe Rossi were leading my attack, and the squad was largely unchanged from the previous season, but Eric Dier was starting to become more involved in the first team (and with good reason – his performances were pretty good in the centre of my defence), and I signed a Brazilian right-back by the name of Fágner, who did pretty well too. There was however, one player who would start to make waves that I had signed the previous year. A youngster by the name of Patrick McKay had joined me from Man City, and he would make 39 appearances in all over the course of the season, scoring 24 goals. Remember his name, for it will significant later.

I wanted the Premier League title. It had been within Liverpool’s grasp yet it was narrowly denied by the margin of one goal, that my team just couldn’t find. I was therefore determined to make that right. My first two games went according to plan – a 4-0 win over West Ham and a 5-0 win over Fulham was the beginning I had wanted, but following this up with a 3-1 defeat against Man City and a 1-0 defeat to Celtic in the Champions League arrested that early momentum. My side were knocked out of the League Cup with a 3-2 home defeat to local rivals Everton – hardly ideal!

Following from that ropy start was a sequence of 13 consecutive victories in the league, and I would also win my remaining five Champions League fixtures to top the group. As the season progressed, my team was in mean form, racking up some big wins, including a 5-1 away win against Norwich, a 5-0 home win over Everton, a 5-0 win over Man City (whom I would also beat 7-1 in the FA Cup) and a 6-0 win over Burnley. A rather satisfying 5-0 win over Man Utd meant I’d quite comfortably crushed the Manchester sides at Anfield.

Thrilling draws away to Arsenal (3-3) and Chelsea (4-4), a home defeat to Newcastle and a defeat away to Sunderland did stall things a little, but more annoying was that the Sunderland defeat came at the end of a brief but miserable sequence that saw Liverpool exit the FA Cup after losing 4-3 at home to Chelsea and saw my Champions League progress placed in jeopardy with a 3-1 loss away to Spanish side Málaga. Four straight league wins followed, as did a 4-0 home win to overturn that deficit against Málaga, but the curse of my away form against Man Utd and Everton would see me lose at both sides to keep the title race interesting.

Celtic were easily dispatched in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and in the semi-final I would face PSG, who had ended my first defence of my European title in 2014. I would lose in Paris but win easily at Anfield, moving into my third straight Champions League final. Beating Spurs 6-3 at Anfield (my chief title rivals) and winning my final three games meant I had won the Premier League for the first time since 2015 – my final game of the season would be against Chelsea in the Champions League final.

I won’t sugarcoat it. I won 2-0 and had therefore defended my place as European champions (WOO!).

It was here that my Liverpool journey would end.

At this stage, I had nothing left to (metaphorically) prove. I had taken Liverpool from being on the edge of contending for majors honours to actually winning major honours, and doing so repeatedly. Needless to say, I was pretty pleased! The team had progressed nicely and had become a serious force in both the Premier League and in Europe. I felt that I couldn’t take them any further, so it was time to go.

Where did I go from here? That would be telling. You’ll find out next time.

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