Way back in the mists of time, there existed a book that described how you could have travelled throughout the European continent for the princely sum of $5 a day. Budget friendly thrills.
I figured this could translate to FM as I continued my search for a save to get my teeth into. The Premier League is one of the toughest leagues to win in the current climate. I will make it even harder by only spending a maximum of £1million on any player. Add to that, I will only make one or two free agent signings per season. Finally, any loans I get in will have to have no fee.
There seemed to be only one team to pick to make it a little harder. Norwich City
August saw us jump out to a 3-0-1 record with an opening day 0-1 defeat to Chelsea, but come roaring back with 3 wins in a row, including a monsterous 4-0 win over Spurs and a 4-1 Carabao Cup Third Round win over Sky Bet Championship side Huddersfield Town. Sadly, September wasn’t as kind. going 0-1-4, including back-to-back 2-4 losses to Arsenal and Southampton and exiting the Carabao Cup at the Fourth Round stage with a 0-1 loss to Fulham. We then remained unbeaten throughout October and into the dying days of November, before losing 2-4 to Burnley. December saw losses against Liverpool and Manchester City, but a clean slate against Leicester, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Brighton. Wins and losses were the order of the day thoughout January and February before breaking that streak with a 0-0 draw with Liverpool in the first game of March. That sparked off a five match unbeaten run that took us all the way into the back end of April before we came to a screeching halt at the end of the season with 4 defeats in 5 games to drop us out of contention for Europe and finish 9th
Our FA Cup exploits took a different turn. An early goal saw off Sheffield United in the Third Round, before having to negotiate a replay against Leicester City after a 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium. Emi Buendia was the hero at Carrow Road as we saw them off 1-0. The Fifth Round saw a crazy goal-fest as an 89th minute Todd Cantwell winner saw us triumph 4-3 against AFC Bournmouth. Quarter Final weekend saw us paired with Manchester City and we somehow took it to extra time and a Teemu Pukki penalty made it 3-3 late on in extra time. It came down to the lottery of penalties and it took John Stones to miss the final penalty to put us through to the Semi Final. After the drama of the last two rounds, it was a routine 1-0 win over Crystal Palace that put us into the Final. This was to be Norwich’s first ever FA Cup Final and we were to face Wolverhampton Wanderers. The game itself started badly as Raul Jimenez dribbled past our defense from wide out and finished from a tight angle. It took until the 75th minute when a deep cross was headed home by substitute Kaylen Hinds to tie the game up at 1-1. Extra time came calling and with penalties looming, Hinds hit a glorious reverse pass to send clear Emi Buendia who rolled the ball past the keeper to put us up 2-1 on 118 minutes. With the fans celebrating wildly, a corner from the right was forced home by Josep Drmic to put away the game at 3-1 at 120 minutes. There was just time to kick off before the final whistle went and we were FA Cup winners for the first time!!!.
A number of players in, none over £1m paid. Let’s look at the permanent signing’s performances. (TPG: Tackles per game; DPG: Dribbles per game)
Tyler Blackett: Games: 10, Goals 1, Assists 1, TPG: 2.95, Pass%: 78%, DPG: 1.27, Avg Rating: 6.89: Tyler was brought in as a backup as we lost three centre-backs before the season started and he played a backup role. For £1m, this was the minimum I expected.
Sonny Hilton: Games: 0, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: —, Pass%: —, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Sonny was signed as a player for the future and a failed loan to FC Dordrecht didn’t see him crack the first team. Here’s to next season.
Sotirios Papagiannopoulos: Games: 36, Goals 2, Assists 0, TPG: 1.88, Pass%: 84%, DPG: 0.33, Avg Rating: 6.94: Sotirios was the first player to be signed as a major contributor and he did so very well, backstopping the defence and causing more established and higher-priced players to be moved on which was the whole point of this.
Lewis Ferguson: Games: 0, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: —, Pass%: —, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Lewis was signed after a lot of arguing, low-balling and unsettling him from Aberdeen. He was immediately sent back to Scotland on loan for the season to have a run at next season with us.
Joaquin: Games: 19, Goals 0, Assists 2, TPG: 2.32, Pass%: 80%, DPG: 0.40, Avg Rating: 6.96: Joaquin was a cover for the DM position that would be eventually vacated. A perfect stop-gap for a season or two and a player who has performed well this season.
Demetri Mitchell: Games: 6, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: 4.78, Pass%: 82%, DPG: 1.50, Avg Rating: 6.63: Demetri was signed from Manchester United before his contract could be renewed. He’ll be the backup left back for Jamal Lewis going forward.
Kaylen Hinds: Games: 10, Goals 1, Assists 1, TPG: 2.76, Pass%: 67%, DPG: 3.24, Avg Rating: 6.77: Kaylen was signed due to the impending hard Brexit. He had a pretty poor half-season with the club, but was instrumental with his only goal and assist aiding in the club winning their first major piece of silverware.