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
Due to the FIFA World Cup being held in Qatar, the 2022/23 season kicked off in July. It was just the one game and brought us a 3-0 win over Arsenal. August saw us continue that winning streak with a perfect month, winning all four games against Bournemouth, West Ham, Southampton and Crystal Palace. September saw Chelsea dispatched 1-0 thanks to a late Thierry Ambrose goal before having to claw our way out of a two-goal deficit on the way to a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion.. October saw us lose our first game of the season to Leicester City (0-1) before going unbeaten through the rest of the month. November and December saw us only play one game each month, thanks to the World Cup, a 1-0 win over Everton in Nov and a 2-3 defeat to Liverpool in Dec. January saw us bookend the month with five goal wins over Leeds United (5-0) and West Bromwich Albion (5-1) The rest of the month saw us lose to Manchester City (1-2) and draw twice. We ran riot becoming unbeaten throughout February and March, despite conceding a 95th minute equalising goal against Newcastle United after being 3-1 up. Still, it had the Match of the Day Goal of the Season to cheer the supporters. This gave us an unlikely title challenge coming into April. Sadly, desite winning the first game of April, 1-0, against Leeds United, we reeled off four draws in a row against Everton, Burnley, Manchester United and finally title rivals Liverpool. That sunk us as a title threat, but a good 1-0 win over Chelsea to begin May helped us to finish five places above last season’s finish in 2nd, despite a terrible 0-3 loss to Southampton in the season closer.
Our FA Cup exploits this season sadly ended at the Fifth Round. Brentford took us to extra time in the our Third Round clash as we eventually won 2-0, before the Fourth Round saw us paired up with Sky Bet League Two side Luton Town. An entirely unconvincing 2-0 win saw us through. The Fifth Round saw us play Manchester United and a straight red for Matt Cain made our job almost impossible as we bowed out 0-1.
Next up was the Carabao Cup. We were reigning holders and winners of two on the bounce, so I was looking for a third. A 5-0 win against Sky Bet Championship side Wigan Athletic saw us pass through the Third Round easily. In the Fourth Round, we knocked out fellow Prem side Manchester United out 2-1. Our Quarter Final draw saw us paired up with Chelsea and we ran riot, winning 4-1 at Stamford Bridge with three goals in the last 10 minutes! In the Semi Final, we faced Brighton & Hove Albion and, despite a red card by Emi Buendia in first half injury time, Zac Hall‘s 14th minute strike sent us again through to the Final, 1-0. The Carabao Cup Final saw us face Everton for the third time in three seasons in the cup. Despite going 0-1 down in the first 20 mins, Stephen Goode stepped up to bag a double and see us through 3-1 to our third triumph in the cup in three seasons.
Finally, we embarked on Norwich’s first European adventure in the UEFA Europa League since their memorable run in 1994. We kicked off being drawn in Group F with Spartak Moscow, Wolfsburger AC & FC Astana. And it was Spartak who gave us our sternest test as we drew twice with them, our equaliser in Moscow meaning we finished top of the group. This meant we had a bye to the Second Knockout Round for a date with…. Spartak Moscow…. OK… We showed them our true quality in this mathc, thumping them 7-1. Portugal’s Sporting Clube de Lisbon were our opponents in the Quarter Final and as we triumped 4-0 at home, a very youthful side beat them 2-1 at home and 6-1 on aggregate. We followed the same MO against our Semi Final opponents A.S Monaco FC. A good 1-0 win at home was followed by the youth team winning 2-1 away in Monaco. This put us into the Final against fellow Prem team Chelsea. We went a goal down early on, but a Tom Curran goal in first half injury time and a Stephen Goode second half double put us in the driving seat, which not even a 95th minute goal from Chelsea could shift us out of, as we triumped 3-2 and took home the UEFA Europa League as our second European trophy in two seasons.
Very much a look to the future again this season. Let’s look at the permanent signing’s performances. (TPG: Tackles per game; DPG: Dribbles per game)
Elliott Rowlands: Games: 0, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: —, Pass%: —, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Winger Elliott was signed with an eye to either the future or a good profit. He spent the season on loan at Scunthorpe
James Trafford: Games: 0, Goals –, Assists 0, TPG: —, Pass%: —, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Goalkeeper James was signed as a development project, in case we lost either of our starting keepers. He spent time on loan at Gillingham during the season, but never made an appearance
Claudio Gomes: Games: 0, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: —, Pass%: —, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Central midfielder Claudio was signed as a challenger to the starting midfielder berth, but was signed last season to arrive at the beginning of this season. When he arrived, he was not as up-to-speed as some of his team-mates, so he was loaned out to MLS’s Inter Miami.
Dylan Levitt: Games: 31, Goals 4, Assists 10, TPG: 2.56, Pass%: 79%, DPG: 2.20, Avg Rating: 7.05: Attacking midfielder Dylan was signed to provide backup cover for the left wing position and he did that to great success this season. He’ll certainly be first choice in that position going forward.
Ellis Chapman: Games: 0, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: —, Pass%: —, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Central midfielder Ellis was signed and loaned back to his club Lincoln City for the season. Hopefully he’ll show us what he’s made of for next season.
Martin Gillespie: Games: 0, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: —, Pass%: —, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Centre-back Martin was signed on the back of a scouting recommendation from my chief scout. He was immediately loaned back to non-league Curzon Ashton, but will get a chance with the club this season.
Manolo Portanova: Games: 0, Goals 0, Assists 0, TPG: —, Pass%: —, DPG: —, Avg Rating: —: Midfielder Manolo was signed on the spur of the moment, having looked at a scouting report about him. However, his age is going against him and he spent the season on loan at Gillingham.
Signed Players Out
Emilano Gomez > Gillingham/Crewe Alexandra (loan)
Kaylen Hinds > Wigan Athletic (loan)
Elliott Rowlands > Scunthorpe United (loan)
Ben Wiles > Hibernian (loan)
Christian Vassilakis Garcia > Real Valladolid C.F (loan)
Demetri Mitchell > Celtic FC (sold for £7.25m) The first of the my signed players to leave the club permanently, he was third choice and had only made 6 appearances for the club before being shipped out to the MLS on loan. Celtic gave us an unbelievable bid which we snapped their arm off. We made a £6m+ profit off him, so much as he was a bad gamble, he at least gave us a healthy profit. Signing Rating: 3
David Luiz > Free Transfer (released) David was a good servant throughout the length of his contract and gave us good service for over 50 games. However, he was only ever going to be a stopgap and we allowed his contract to expire. Signing Rating: 8
Joaquin > FC Krasnodar (sold for £5m) This signing was firmly on the side of poor as he only played 19 games for the club overall in the 3 years he was at the club, spending the last two out on loan in Spain. Signed for £775k, it was a good profit, but I put that down to the Premier League tax. Signing Rating: 4
Tyler Blackett > Free Transfer (released) Tyler was my first signing after arriving at the club and he was just not up to the task of patching the hole that we had in the centre of defence in that first season. Tyler would go on to only play 20 games for the club in his time here and spent the last two seasons on loan at Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End respectively. The fact that he came in when we were so short of CB cover elevates his rating a notch. Signing Rating: 5
Nathan Broadhead > Birmingham City (loan)
Claudio Gomes > Inter Miami (loan)
Manolo Portanova > Gillingham (loan)
James Trafford > Gillingham (loan)
Reuben Goncalves > FC Dordrecht (loan)
Andrija Balic > Bayer 04 Leverkusen (sold for £50m) Andrija was a vital cog in our midfield, playing the roles needed in the middle, brilliantly. He made nearly 100 appearances for the club in all competitions and was also a member of the Croatia side that finished 3rd in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, when you get an offer of £50m and you have up-and-coming cover, you take it. My best signing so far. Signing Rating: 9
So the first wave of players that we signed by me have departed the club. We’re looking at a split between good at bad with this one, with one real disappointment (Blackett), two backups who had offers (Joaquin & Mitchell) and finally two players who played well whilst at the club (Luiz & Balic)