So here we go. A bold step into a new version of Football Manager that is quite unlike the versions I am experienced with, even though a lot of stuff soon feels familiar. The overall layout is more or less the same but tweaked to reflect updates in the game engine, training is revamped (all to do with schedules, which I’ve left to the assistant manager to handle for now), and tactics is well… pretty much the same actually. It comes down to finding a tactic which works, but having one or two backups for specific occasions – and making sure the team is motivated, with not only having good players but a good mindset and a good sense of cohesion. In fact, cohesion and harmony appear to be more important than ever in FM 2019.
As usual, I am playing as my beloved Liverpool, and for part one of this adventure, taking place in the 2018/19 season, I have played ten Premier League fixtures, along with the cup and European ties that take place within the first ten league games. How did I do?
The short answer is – very well. After ten Premier League games Liverpool sit third in the table with eight wins, one draw and only one defeat, away to Arsenal. I’ve enjoyed a 3-0 thumping of Manchester United at Anfield and a huge 8-0 win over Wolves. In Europe, a 6-0 away win against Swiss side Young Boys opened up the Champions League campaign to the best possible start, which was followed by a good performance and a 2-1 win over Real Madrid at Anfield, whilst my third tie in that competition was at home to Napoli, which ended 1-0 to Liverpool – three wins from three is a positive start in that particular competition (and a much needed tonic for me, seeing as Liverpool are getting hammered by Barcelona in real life as I type).
Good performances from certain players are messing with my team selection mind – Van Dijk is a rock in the centre of defence, as is Joe Gomez – both of them are making a difference for me, along with the assured safe hands of ‘keeper Allison. Meanwhile, whereas Robertson is Liverpool’s preferred left-back in real life, a combination of good form and fitness concerns had led to Moreno holding that place down for the first few games. I’ve been impressed by Fabinho in the middle, but it’s new signing Pavon (an Argentine winger) who has been particularly good. Mo Salah is scoring goals but so is Firmino and so is Daniel Sturridge, a player I have always liked. The likes of James Milner and Jordan Henderson – usually mainstays in the Liverpool side – are finding it hard to break into the first team on a regular basis. Having a motivated squad that’s playing well is creating a positive headache, if there is a such a thing!
All in all, it’s been a good start to the season. The next ten games though, have the chance to turn it into a very good season…