Well hello there FMCheapSeats fans, Steve here or LutterworthFox as the virtual FM world may know and love. It’s my turn to take reigns of #theworldisnotenoughfm joint save and after the wonderful work of the previous tenants at Pacific FC in Canada I am certainly feeling the pressure!
For those of you who have missed all the goings on previously then make sure you check out the opening post written by the amazing SeattleRed.
It’s November 3rd 2024 (in-game time) and CoxieFM has handed me the save file, his season went very well as he ended with a Canadian Premier League final win on penalties over York9, this gives me North American Champions League qualification next season. This is my one big aim for my season in charge, to do what others have failed so far and win the NACL, a tough ask I know, the furthest the Pacific FC have got so far was the Quarter final in 2023!
My first job is to assess the playing squad and the first thing I see is we only have a first-team squad, there is now 2nd team, there’s no youth team, so every single player we own sits in our first-team. I really don’t like this, I like to have a squad of 25 players, at current we have 32 players!
So many players but most actually look decent (if you pay attention to the star ratings!)
After taking a look over the squad there are four players who really take my eye.
Striker Ivan Ibanez didn’t play much for Coxie in the previous season but when he did always seemed to score. 8 goals in 3 starts and 6 sub appearances. Coxie went with a crazy-ass 4150 formation with no Strikers, personally this guy needs to play.
In between the sticks is Emil Gazdoz, the 21 year old Canadian keeper was an ever-present last season and did something you don’t see in an FM GK and that’s average over 7!
Next up is the De Bruyne of the CPL, Clayton Lewis is the assist king, a whopping 20 in 34 starts last time out. I really like the look of this guy, he is a natural AM but for me is more suited to the RW.
The fourth and final player I want to speak about is another Striker, the lads in the Discord were raving about Bismark Appiah, signed in 2023 for £37k he currently has 36 goals in 52 league starts and last season scored 30 in 31 games for the club. Personally I don’t see it when I look at his attributes but I have to give him a shot, my plan is to play him on the LW.
Tactics talk now and unlike Coxie I will be going nice and normal. The 41221 tactic I’ve employed in my Hall of FM-ame series has worked well, really well in fact so I plan to play a variant of that. I also think in a joint save it’s fun to go completely against what the previous occupant of the save did, Coxie played 5 AMs, I’m going to play none!
Above is what I think, after looking through the players is my Best XI, well actually it’s the best X as I really don’t have anyone to play the DLP role as a DM. That is my number one target this pre-season. With such a big squad I can’t really go signing loads of players, I have plans to offload a few and if more than I expect leave then I will sign a few more. The other position I may look at improving is the RB position as I only really have one decent player who can play there.
January 1st 2025 – Squad Woes!
I’m kind of lost for words for what is happening at the moment. I have to admit I have no idea how the guys before me coped. As I came towards this date we had SO many players out of contract, OK so just offer them a new deal I hear you say, well I did, I offered them deals the same as what they were already on, they accepted and I was happy. What I didn’t account for was the Canadian Premier league salary cap! £11.25k per week!
Turns out as a club we are spending £23k per week! WTF?!?!? So every time a new deal was offered the board overturned it.
So on Jan 1st I lost all these players…
Massively we lost Striker Ibanez, one of my key men. He actually didn’t want to sign a new deal so I can’t blame the salary cap for that one.
Currently we are STILL over the cap with a CPL squad of 19 players. This includes Coupland and Salter, two key players who are current out of contract but still here, I can’t get him to sign a new deal though. Now I can cope with that for the CPL….just about but this squad is too small for the NACL. It’s so frustrating, you only have the salary cap for the CPL, so you lose players in your squad you could use for other competitions because you can’t offer them new deals!
There is some good news though, two new players join. One of these, CB Nathanial Adjei was actually arranged by Coxie, a top quality defender but on £1.4k per week! Over 10% of my CPL salary budget!
The other lad to come in is DM Elliot Simmons, he joins for £100k from York9 FC. £700 per week as well so not too bad.
So the aim before the season starts is to bring in a load of players who are on minimal wages. I may look at selling a few players but I do need everyone around for the NACL. It will annoy some but I can’t afford to lose anyone else, this salary cap is mental but for me it’s only one season. My plan is to bring in 5-6 players on between £1k and £2k per week. Then leave out a couple of lads who equal the same amount. This then bulks out the CPL squad which gives me more options. Let’s just hope the players I leave out don’t kick up shit! What a faff!
Pre-season Transfer – A total mess!
So here we are, the start of a new season, new optimism amongst the fans and the players are raring to go. But for me it’s been a nightmare! This squad cap is destroying me. I have had to be massively ruthless, not only in who I sign but also with who I’ve had to leave out of the squad. Players aren’t happy but there is nothing I can do, I need these players for the NACL so they have to stay and be happy with minimal games.
There are new players joining the ranks, none are that good but all will do a job and are on literally no money!
In comes four player….
Samir Habbassi, a young Canadian Central Defender, highly rated and will do a decent job but he will only be used for the non-CPL games as I can’t fit him into the squad with the salary cap! He signs from Cavalry FC for £450.
Emmanuel Zambazis, a 27 year old Central Midfielder, he looks decent for this level but will more than likely have to settle for a place on the bench, he signs from Edmonton for £52k.
Paul York, a young goalkeeper who will be my No. 2 in the CPL this season, he costs £375 from Cavalry, to be fair he isn’t good but he is costing me £130 per week!
Isaiah Johnston, versatility is the key here, he can play as a DM, CM or RW, the 23 year-old joins on a free transfer, I like his work rate and physically he is decent.
I won’t lie this has been the toughest pre-season I have ever had. I now have a CPL squad of 20 players. I also have 8 players not registered in the first-team who will have to settle for games in the NACL and other cup competitions! Madness!
Now for the toughest part, we are odds-on to win the bloody league! Wish me luck!
Opening Months – CONCACAF Champions League
The season is here! After a stressful few months it’s time to get on with it and it all starts with the North American Champions League, Mexican side Club Leon were our first round opponents. We are huge underdogs and with lots of new players I wasn’t expecting anything. What I didn’t expect was this!
A 2-0 win in an amazing opening performance. One massive foot in the quarters.
And in the home leg we once again played really well to grab a 2-1 win and a 4-1 win on aggregate. I have to admit I did not expect that, we were brilliant and the team seem to have instantly taken to my tactic!
The Quarter finals up next where we faced Portland Timbers, first leg at home and we started really well, we took the lead early on with a Zambazis header but they pinned us back just before half time. The tie ends 1-1, we needed more than that and go into the away leg with an uphill task to go through
My word did we play well! We scored early once again but after 20 minutes we found ourselves 2-1 down. Andone grabbing the goals once again. In the second half we went for it but struggled to break them down, then came the moment Samuel Salter, playing on the RW grabs the ball, he cuts inside and smashes it home!
Now we had to sit tight, we defended for our lives and then the whistle blew! We went through on away goals!!!!!
Into the semi’s, Pacific FC’s first ever time this far in the NACL and in our way is Tigres UANL from Mexico.
First leg at home and I won’t lie we absolutely battered them, we had so many shots but our finishing let us down. Central Defender Yao gave us a 1-0 lead but once again we fell apart and went 2-1 down. Then in the final minute Winger Velado-Tsegaye finished off a lovely move to level the game 2-2. Now for the away leg!
What a game! Tigres started amazingly and found themselves 2-0 up in 13 minutes. It looked to be all over, we had chances but they defended well, then with 20 minutes to go I made a triple change and then something magical happened. Salter, on as a sub scored with 13 minutes to and then with 5 minutes to go another sub, Winger Reid rifled in from 12 yards to level the tie at 4-4. Tigres had fallen apart and we were piling forward and with 2 minutes to go a corner swung in and new signing Adjei smashed a header into the roof of the net! What a comeback! The whistle went and it was all over, somehow we had grabbed victory from the jaw of defeat! INTO THE NACL FINAL!
PACIFIC FC ARE IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL! And in our way is Club America, the 3rd Mexican side we have faced in this years competition. Could this be one step too far or could we cause the biggest shock in North American football?
First leg away and we really didn’t show up. Club America dominated the match but fortunately for us we only came out with a 1-0 defeat. We need to perform much better in the second leg if we have any chance!
We are the kings of the comeback but this would be the greatest comeback of all time and after 40 minutes the comeback looked impossible, Club America scored and that put us 2-0 behind in the overall, we needed 3 goals to win it! The second half started after a rocket at half time and it worked a treat. Appiah scoring 2 goals in the first 4 minutes of the second half to put us ahead in the match but it was still 2-2 in the tie and we were losing on away goals.
The game was crazy after that, end to end football, so many chances but we held firm, then with 16 minutes left the goal that would seal the tie. The ball was really nicely played forward, it came to Salter, he laid it back to Simmons and then a glorious throughball calving the Club American defence in two, Salter was through, he slid it past the keeper and into the net! 3-2!! COMEBACK COMPLETE!
We held on as the final minutes slowly ticked by, then the whistle!!
PACIFIC FC ARE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS!!
I’m not sure I’ve ever EVER enjoyed a 3 hour session of FM as I have this morning. It had everything! Some of those comebacks were just mental!
What a run, now it’s time to turn to the league! If I can!
To be continued!