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Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.

  1. Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge

    I am a proud Liverpool fan, so then it is with great envy that I cast my attention down the M62 to Manchester United where one Sir Alex Ferguson revolutionised the club forever. After his era in charge of the club, the club will never be the same again, every successor will be forever cast in his shadow and with every feat having already being accomplished by him the scope for surpassing him is nigh impossible. During his 27 year reign from 1986-2013 he won 38 trophies, surely this kind of continued dominance will never be replicated again.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-alex_ferguson.jpg

    That's where I come in.

    As far as the game is concerned i'm a 20 year old former international footballer with 15 caps and 2 goals for his country with a continental pro coaching licence, not bad for a 20 year old. This of course couldn't be further from the truth, but escapism through a virtual reality really is quite appealing these days. But of course in order to make this a truly authentic attempt at replicating Sir Alex there must be certain rules in place to make sure that I don't get distracted or side tracked, which is otherwise a very clear possibility...

    Challenge Requirements

    1. Holiday until 6th November - This is the date when Sir Alex took over Manchester United
    2. Take over the team 2nd from bottom in the Premier League -This is the position United were in when Ferguson took over
    3. Stay at this one club - I'm positive this doesn't need explaining...
    4. Aim to bring youth players through - Ideally my own "Class of '92"
    5. Win a domestic cup with 4 seasons - Ferguson won his first cup in the 89/90 season
    6. Win a league title within 7 seasons - Ferguson won his first title in the 92/93 season
    7. Win a league and cup double within 8 seasons - Ferguson won his first double in the 93/94 season
    8. Win the treble within 13 seasons - Ferguson won his famous treble in 98/99
    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-article-1389772-0c35380f00000578-689_306x423.jpg

    Now that it's come around to actually attempting the challenge i'm actually feeling quite apprehensive. Not because i'm unsure of my FM skills, that much has already been established, but more because in the goals above there's a lot of trophies and a lot of progress that needs to be made within a set space of time. This puts a lot of pressure on what team I get. One of the teams I fear for example is Hull City, at the start of the game there's a bigger queue for the medic room at Hull than when Eva Carneiro was a physio at Chelsea, not that the injured players at Hull are anything special anyway...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-download.jpg

    To be honest the 6th of November is still quite early in the season with around 1/3 of the games being played by that point so it really could be any team in the league (fingers crossed Liverpool), regardless my brain keeps guessing as i'm watching in anticipation as I holiday away the days to that magical date when I get to find out who i'll be managing...
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  2. Odds on it being Everton? They always seem to struggle in FM17 and I think the irony of a Liverpool fan trying to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson with Everton would not be missed
    Ralph2211 likes this.

  3. Good luck with this, eager to see where it goes, I'm predicting Watford

  4. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Odds on it being Everton? They always seem to struggle in FM17 and I think the irony of a Liverpool fan trying to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson with Everton would not be missed
    Haha I hadn't even thought about that! I'd be caught in some sort of paradox whereby I want to win to complete the challenge but at the same time I'd be nonchalant about making them nosedive towards relegation haha!

  5. Quote Originally Posted by dani3w View Post
    Good luck with this, eager to see where it goes, I'm predicting Watford
    Thanks a lot Well you won't have to wait long to find out, i'll be uploading my next post later today!

  6. 6th November

    The time has arrived, I hurriedly look up the Premier League table and in all honestly, I think the FM gods have been quite kind (to both me and Arsenal in 1st it seems)...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-english-premier-division_-overview-profile.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-henri-brownlow_-inbox.png

    So there it is, Swansea City. I'm pleasantly surprised really, despite the fact that they're also struggling in real life I actually don't think that it will be too difficult to keep them up in the first season, and that is the goal the board have set for my first season. They also come with a delightfully large budget of £21m and 70k in free wages giving me plenty of room to reinforce the team if I feel the need. However, i'm not really sure where this money has come from, the club after all has a balance of £5m, the chairman therefore seems as willing to go into his overdraft as a University student with no concept of money.

    But you're not going to find me complaining, if i'm to get this challenge off the ground i'm going to need the chairman to keep throwing money at me, quite the opposite to real life Swansea really. And so with the bigger picture surrounding the club complete I take a look at the first team and try to come to terms with the scale of the task in front of me.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-swansea-city_-players-players-2.png

    Speaking generally, the team is pretty good and should be able to avoid relegation as it is, but the big problem really is the defence. The only positive in the defence really is that Fabianski is actually a solid 'keeper - and I never thought i'd say that - but even he's ageing. So when it comes round to the summer and maybe in January i'll need to replace the likes of Kyle Naughton and Federico Fernandez who are just weighing us down at the minute. Of course as far as stand out players go Swansea's appear to be:

    Gylfi Sigurdsson

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-gylfi-sigurdsson_-overview-profile.png

    Gylfi is going to be the player that I build this team around, at least at first. He is one of the finest shadow strikers that money can buy at the start of the game and I expect him to win us points by himself as the season progresses.

    Borja Baston

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-borja-baston_-overview-profile.png

    Borja Baston is a truly interesting player, in real life I wouldn't say I rate him, in fact Fernando Llorente looks far better than him. However, this is the virtual world where Borja's stats are far more impressive, it will be tight between Llorente and Baston for who starts in my 1 striker system but Baston is edging it at the minute based on his stats alone, but there's scope for that to change.

    Ki Sung Yeung

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-ki-sung-yeung_-overview-profile.png

    There's been speculation in real life about Ki being poached by other bigger teams but Swansea have managed to hang onto him, and taking over here I couldn't be any more grateful. His stats look fantastic and considering his age he could be here for a while, but having said that everyone has their price and even Ki is replaceable, but for the time being he will be integral to the way this team plays as I look to bring back the "Swansea style of play" (whatever that is).


    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-everton_-overview-profile.png

    Now this has to be the most interesting player in this list for one simple reason; he doesn't actually play for Swansea in real life. He appears to have been signed on a rather curious loan deal as well, the deal has a clause whereby we can purchase him only if we win the FA Cup, and then we have to pay £30m. I think it's a good thing that I took over. However, despite questionable terms on his deal I am actually grateful to have him here because his stats look brilliant, especially for his age. He is versatile, being able to play on either flank and ultimately he'll probably be a starter for me depending on how he progresses, my only fear here being that he'll have a storming season and get poached by a bigger team.


    And so there we have it, I am the manager of Swansea City with them sitting in 19th place in the table. I feel genuinely hopeful about this challenge now, although the task ahead of me is still huge it is in some way helped by the fact that I am actually taking over what I hope is a decent team, and look how happy I am about it!

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    Last edited by H Brownlow; 01/03/2017 at 04:28 PM.

  7. Really looking forward to this! Don't sleep on Llorente, the dude always seems to destroy me!

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

  8. Of those that were in the bottom five I think Swansea were probably the second best pick, behind West Ham so you've done alright there! Can't believe Arsenal are 10out of 10

  9. Quote Originally Posted by Sam91 View Post
    Really looking forward to this! Don't sleep on Llorente, the dude always seems to destroy me!

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

    I have thought about it but i'm not sure I think i'll just see how they both perform, I also like playing with an Advanced Forward which puts Baston in the prime position to. But I remember using Llorente on previous incarnations of FM and he was a god so he could yet be big for me!

  10. Quote Originally Posted by dani3w View Post
    Of those that were in the bottom five I think Swansea were probably the second best pick, behind West Ham so you've done alright there! Can't believe Arsenal are 10out of 10
    Haha yeah Arsenal may become a nice little side story here if they become an Invincibles #2! And I agree, it could've been a lot worse, West Ham would've just been cheating though with the resources that they have available haha

  11. Could have been so much worse but Swansea is a good selection given that it won't be as easier to do as say an Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea etc, but still not as impossible as a Burnley etc

    Looking forward to it

  12. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Could have been so much worse but Swansea is a good selection given that it won't be as easier to do as say an Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea etc, but still not as impossible as a Burnley etc

    Looking forward to it
    Thanks a lot! After you're last post i'm just grateful it's not Everton..

  13. November 2016 Overview

    Not long after i've sat down for my first day in charge and i've had chance to formally meet the chairman and my assistant I have an introductory meeting with the staff to pass on their thoughts with the squad, where they tell me that some members of the squad are feeling disenchanted and want to play more games. How right they were because as soon as I press continue Modou Barrow's name flashes up on my screen telling me that he wants first team football. Immediately he holds me to ransom saying that if I don't play him or sell him then he'll drag the whole squads morale down and turn them on me. Talk about a baptism of fire.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-modou-barrow_-interaction-conversation-history.png

    But I won't let the first thing I do at Swansea be bowing to player pressure, i'd rather severe my own foot and have Barrow himself develop Parkinsons and try to sew it back on using a pair of chopsticks. So I tell him he can get lost if he can't accept being a bit-part player. Which goes down well.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-barrow-fight.png

    Thankfully there's not much of an uprising of note yet, not that there's many first team players for him to try and turn against me in the U23's. However, drama aside, I have to wait 13 days until my first game which gives me plenty of time to restructure the training, and bring in 3 new coaches to help out; Steve Cooper, Antti Niemi & Ray Wilkins. I hope the time I spent on improving the quality on the training field here can help get more quality out of the players on the pitch. Finally to complete my preparation for my first game I had a player meeting to make it clear to the players that the board expected us to avoid relegation this season. The players - most notably Leon Britton - were incensed and said I was being to unambitious, for a team in 19th position after a third of the season having being played already they were being brave. So I joined them and tried to win back the team and said we could achieve a mid table finish, Leon Britton seemed happy with this, and so did the rest of the squad. Forget Modou Barrow starting an uprising, Leon Britton seems to have the whole squad wrapped around his finger, i'll be looking to sell him ASAP, captain or not.

    Regrettably, it seems that my first match is against Chelsea, who themselves are doing well, much like in real life, though not quite to that extent. So although it isn't an ideal first game i'd still like to see an improvement, a good performance atleast, it is at home and the home fans will be looking on expectantly. It's often the case in FM that my home form is much better than my away form, so i'm hoping to rely on that to shoot Swansea up the table. As I look at my line-up I question my choice of starting striker because the stats show that Borja Baston whom I highlighted as a key player when I first came in hasn't even started a single Premier League game yet! On the contrary Fernando Llorente has started 8 games and scored in 4 of them. But I stick to my guns and keep Borja Baston in, I hope his pace and impressive technical stats can stretch the Chelsea defence a bit more. And so this is the line-up I chose for the game, and my what a game it was...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-swansea-v-chelsea_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea City 1-0 Chelsea

    What a first game! I was almost angry when I saw the Chelsea team to be honest, they are set up like they are the underdogs with how defensive their formation is, 8 of their 11 players being tightly boxed in around their half, very Italian Mr Conte.

    But we had the best of the early chances and when Borja Baston was taken down by John Terry in the box, Gylfi Sigurdsson was the perfect man for the occasion as he converted the penalty with ease. After that we pushed for a second before half time, but then in the 2nd half I shut up shop and went all Italian on Conte, the perfect irony of it. What a start to life at the Liberty Stadium, the only drawback being a late injury to Kyle Naughton which is going to exploit the serious lack of cover at full backs in this squad, but overall a fantastic performance and this previously leaky defence looks revitalised!

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-swansea-v-chelsea_-overview-overview.png

    Not long after the relative euphoria of the resounding victory over Chelsea i've triumphantly thumped the space bar a few times and accidentally found myself at the next game of my Swansea tenure, again at home against Sunderland. Sunderland currently sit bottom of the league, and so this game couldn't be any more important to helping decide how this season is going to go for us. If we lose we are sucked down into a relegation battle and start to lose touch with the teams outside of the relegation zone, but if we win we could find ourselves outside of the relegation zone already with aspirations to climb even higher! It's with that in mind that I stick as truly as possible to the team which got that impressive win over Chelsea, the only change being Joey O'Brien who signed for a free in the summer coming in to replace Kyle Naughton at right back, I tell him "I have faith in you" before he goes out, whilst i'm shaking my head in my hands grimacing at my laptop at the thought of what he might do wrong.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-swansea-v-sunderland_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 3-2 Sunderland

    Despite the best attempts of Joey O'Brien (I single him out for abuse after the game) and Jordi Amat to throw away what should have been a routine win after we took a record breakingly early lead thanks to Everton.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-quickest-goal.png

    Then early in the second half Borja Baston finished off a nice passing movie to put us 2-0 up. But then, inexplicably in the 80th minute Joey O'Brien realises my worst fears and loses concentration (likely gazing at a passing butterfly) and lets in Defoe, only to realise his wrongdoing and hack him down in the box. Defoe himself duly converts, leaving me completely incensed. That is until 3 minutes later when Jordi Amat scores from a header, suddenly the wind of relief blows over me, I relax back into my chair and tell the team to go 'Defensive' and 'Highly Structured' just to give nothing else away late on. Jordi Amat however clearly doesn't respond well to authority because not even one minute after scoring and being told not to give anything cheap away by me he goes and scores the type of own goal that i'd envisioned for Joey O'Brien, so we spend the next 7 minutes camped in our box trying to keep out Sunderland's one man show that is Jermain Defoe and we manage it, just. With my nerves shot having witnessed Defoe go close a couple times I click advance and breathe one final sigh of relief as I see that we've climbed out of the relegation zone already. Football Manager really is one hell of a game sometimes.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-swansea-v-sunderland_-overview-overview.png

    If you thought that I got out of that scar free then you're very mistaken. As you can see on the above screenshot, I subbed Gylfi Sigurdsson off at half time, but not because of a tactical change, instead it was because he was injured.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-3.png

    ​Suddenly Football Manager is looking like a much crueller game, he's out for 4 weeks. Which means he'll likely miss the next 5 or 6 games thanks to the busy December period, oh what i'd give for a winter break now.

    Regardless though the month of November has seen my induction into the managers role at Swansea and so far, so good. I just need to find a way of making the team perform without their star player, hopefully we'll be more of a Take That without Robbie Williams rather than Destiny's Child without Beyonce.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-untitled.png
    Last edited by H Brownlow; 03/03/2017 at 04:02 PM.
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  14. Doing well mate and a great win over Chelsea. Important to follow it up with a win over Sunderland given they'll be in and around the relegation zone all season so need to beat them to stay out of it. KUTGW
    H Brownlow likes this.

  15. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Doing well mate and a great win over Chelsea. Important to follow it up with a win over Sunderland given they'll be in and around the relegation zone all season so need to beat them to stay out of it. KUTGW
    Thanks a lot mate, you're absolutely right, that was the best bit about it really!

  16. December Update

    After a good start to life in Wales I look towards December with hope in my heart having won all of my games so far for The Swans. But with Sigurdsson now missing we face an interesting challenge as he misses a lot of games now and we need to adapt our system to accommodate for his loss, and I think I know how i'm going to do that.

    Our first game of December is up against Stoke in our first away game for Swansea so far. My line up is pretty defensive, I pushed Ki Sung-Yeung a bit further up the pitch to dictate play in the centre of the park and brought club captain Leon Britton back into the team to keep play ticking over and add a bit more quality on the ball into the team. Apart from that though the team remains largely the same regrettably with Joey O'Brien responding well to my criticism that I level at him in a private chat I give him another chance against Stoke. Don't let me down Joey.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-1-stoke-v-swansea.png

    Stoke 1-0 Swansea

    Regrettably the change of system didn't pay off. We conceded early on to Mame Diouf after Joey O'Brien was caught out on the ball and Arnautovic robbed him of it and set up Diouf for a tap in. To say I was frustrated is an understatement, I don't think i've ever had such contempt for a player as i've quickly developed for Joey here. So, in recognising that the system isn't working I changed it to this...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-3.-stoke-v-swansea_-tactics_-overview.png

    Using all 3 of my subs at half time to replace players that were playing poorly or needed to be taken off to make way for players who were more suited to the system. This included introducing Leroy Fer who was just coming back from injury, and he looks quite good and i'm sure i'll use him once he's properly fit, but I needed to risk him here in the hope he could provide a little bit of magic. Unfortunately, he could not, nor could anyone else and it finished 1-0 and my roll of the dice hadn't paid off.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-4.-stoke-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    Next up though was the draw for the 3rd round of the FA Cup, a competition i'm highly interested in given that a run in that could really add some much needed excitement and positivity to the season.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-5.-henri-brownlow_-inbox.png

    Wow, a South Wales derby in the 3rd round. Now that's the kind of excitement that I was hoping for! It might make the tie a bit more difficult and make progression in the competition harder but an opportunity to wipe the wry smile off of Neil Warnocks face is one I won't pass up on!

    Quickly before our next game I notice that the fans have started picking up on the weak links in our team..

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-6.-henri-brownlow_-social-feed.png

    Our next game is an interesting one, on the face of it i'd expect us to do well against Bournemouth considering they have Callum Wilson suspended at the minute and only really Jack Wilshere stands out as an outstanding player in the team, but nonetheless I think we are best suited erring on the side of caution. This is because Bournemouth are currently 6th in the table, i'm not really sure how but somehow they're playing out of their skin and i'm not going to underestimate them. So with that being said I stick with the same defensive line-up that started so horrifically against Stoke in the hope that they've all learned their lessons. What's that saying that Einstein bloke said? Madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results? Nah, can't be that.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-7.-bournemouth-v-swansea_-preview-line-ups.png

    Bournemouth 3-0 Swansea

    Now, I may sound like i'm in denial, but that actually went quite well! We had the same amount of shots, dominated possession, I can't really say where we went wrong. I went attacking at half time to try and chase the game in the second half, which backfired completely and within half an hour the game was gone as we got hit on the break twice. I'd blame my forwards but my defenders barely covered themselves in glory this game either, with Joey O'Brien picking up a 6.4 (actually quite good for him) his days look numbered. Making matters worse Jefferson Montero looked quite good, and duly got himself injured. But I won't let that get me down, we deserved to win and I won't let anyone tell me otherwise.

    In much better news though I found a buyer for my earliest problem at this club, Modou Barrow, the revolution he leveraged against me hasn't really materialised but nonetheless i've decided to bend to his whim and show him the door in a deal worth £3.1m. Considering his only decent attribute is his pace and he's past the age of saying "he's got potential" i'm happy to let this stick in the mud go before his negativity spreads through the squad like a cancer.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-8.1-barrow.png

    Next up is West Brom, and in a desperate attempt to try and recover the momentum and form that I had before this nightmare called "December" I revert back to my original 4-2-3-1 formation, but using Leroy Fer as a direct replacement for Gylfi Sigurdsson. I happily drop Leon Britton in the process. Talking of dropped players I've had quite enough of Joey O'Brien and his 'accident waiting to happen' attitude to defending, so I scoured around my U23's for a youth player who could take his place and saw that Angel Rangel had been training with the U23's, clearly not favoured by the old manager he was now looking like my saving grace. God, may you have sent this Angel to my U23's to bestow upon me 3 points.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-9.-swansea-v-west-brom_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 2-2 West Brom

    No such luck i'm afraid, not even holy intervention could get us 3 points at this stage. But we are atleast scoring, and we are yet to lose at home. Leroy Fer has a definite impact in the game and just before half time Jack Cork makes the game look much closer than it is by scoring a beauty. For a few seconds I thought a deity had intervened in the 77th minute when Leroy Fer capped off a good move, but no less than 2 minutes later Rondon tanked his way through my defence and scored again to cap off his brace. Typical, our team knows they were in a game against a Tony Pulis team to with the Welsh manager conveying his anger management problems over to his players as they commit 33 fouls in the game compared to our 12!

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-10.-swansea-v-west-brom_-analysis-post-match-2.png

    ​Nevertheless, I won't let Tony Pulis' ravenous dogs get us down, we go next to Everton in search of our 1st points on the road and everything about it screams defeat. However, i'm given hope when I look at their team and see that they're playing the same defensive 4-3-3 that I was using and getting slapped by teams with, except in the playmaker role where I had put Ki, they have Tom Cleverley, I have a smug laugh to myself and set up my team exactly how Bournemouth did against me when I used Everton's system against them. This includes starting Llorente and dropping Leroy Fer since he isn't quite 100% over his injury yet. I also try something new on the right side of midfield as Zuqui comes in to try and add some quality out wide. I also try to shore up the defence by bringing in Alfie Mawson for his first start under me, and all in all I have a good feeling about this.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-11.-everton-v-swansea_-preview-line-ups.png

    Everton 1-0 Swansea

    The smug smile on my face turns to pure dread and regret only 16 minutes in as Tom Cleverley scores one of the best goals i've ever seen on Football Manager. No word of a lie, the ball comes to him about 30 yards out, he has Jack Cork wrestling with him for it so he quickly volleys it on the bounce with his "weaker" left foot and it flies into the top corner. Unbelievable. I could not believe my eyes. After that we dominated the ball but just couldn't do anything with it. With my faith in Borja Baston in recent times wavering I withdrew him in favour of Everton, in the hope that Everton would put Everton to the sword, giving me the chance to use some clever word play. But nothing ever materialised, in truth nothing really materialised for either side all game despite my best efforts.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-12.-everton-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    Nevertheless, I shall not let us whimper and die this early in the season, despite the team looking like an old dog that just wants to be put out of its misery. We're too young to die, and we have so much more to live for. We start picking our form up against no less than Man City, they haven't exactly gone easy on us with their line-up either, with them picking a very much full strength team. Nevertheless, we our conceding less goals now and we are occasionally scoring, so the only change I make to the team that lost to Everton is taking out Zuqui and bringing in Nathan Dyer, although Zuqui didn't play to badly last game, and he has done really well with our U23's Nathan Dyer is a Premier League winner, and that kind of pedigree means he belongs playing against the likes of Manchester City and I can't deny him that.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-13.-swansea-v-man-city_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 0-2 Manchester City

    Okay, so perhaps I should explain myself, no, this wasn't the game that we got our form back. Far from it. In fact actually we were awful. I'm sorry if you thought this whole replicating Sir Alex thing would be a doddle, but unfortunately it's not, for me anyway. Never the less the sun is shining outside. I think it is at least as I scowl over the match report of the game looking for where it all went wrong, maybe if the sun wasn't shining onto my laptop screen I could find out where we went wrong. I turn around and hiss at the light as I close the blind and set about winning this game.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-14.-swansea-v-man-city_-overview-overview.png

    You could be mistaken for thinking that my biggest problem right now is that we haven't got a single point away from home yet, you might even think that it's the fact that I just lost my unbeaten streak at home. Nope, my biggest problem right now is this.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-15.-sigurdsson-ask-leave-psg.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-16.-gylfi-sigurdsson_-interaction-private-chat.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-17.-gylfi-sigurdsson_-interaction-private-chat-2.png

    That's right, the chosen one has had his head turned elsewhere and the Emperor Palpatine responsible for this is the Oil money of PSG, I try telling him that no one has ever enjoyed having more money, surprisingly he disagrees. He runs off in a mardy, tears rushing from his eyes, no doubt going to cry into his measly 70k a week salary he currently earns. Ungrateful, spoilt brat.

    But despite his money fuelled fit he is actually over his injury now, this means that he goes straight into my starting 11 against Leicester in our next match. I switch to a 4-4-1-1 and drop Borja Baston who has been awful recently in the hope that Sigurdsson will play well whether he likes being here or not. Apart from that the only other change I make is replacing Alfie Mawson - who like Baston has barely covered himself in glory - with Fernandez, whom I hope can make an immediate impact in his first game for me now he's recovered from injury to. Come on Gylfi, 70k a week is enough, just keep us up.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-18.-swansea-v-leicester_-preview-line-ups.png

    Swansea 0-0 Leicester

    Truth be told, we had the best of the game and i'm happy with a draw. A point at home against the reigning champions isn't a bad result. Another part of me is ecstatic about it because it is the first clean sheet we've kept since the 1-0 win over Chelsea in my first game for the club. So with all of these positives put together i'm just going to ignore the fact that that's the 5th game out of 8 that i've managed with Swansea that we've failed to score in. I don't even know why I brought it up really, it's just such a small detail that really threatens to ruin this nice moment for me...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-swansea-v-leicester_-overview-overview.png

    Ignorance truly is bliss. Why should you face up to your problems when it's far easier to supress them and pretend that everything is okay? That is at least the attitude that i'm adopting when I am picking my line-up for our next game against West Ham, with all of the different formations and systems that i've tried recently this one seems the most promising right now and i'm going to stick with it whether Gylfi likes it or not. There is of course one minor alteration because at this point the games are coming thick and fast and although Angel Rangel has been doing brilliantly, he is actually quite old now so is indeed quite tired, which means regrettably a return for Joey O'Brien, but as i'm making changes I may as well put in Zuqui, he continues to play well for the U23's and god knows I need players that are in form right now, so with my right side of the pitch transformed I look forward to see if we can get that much anticipated first away win.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-20.-west-ham-v-swansea_-preview-line-ups.png

    West Ham 1-4 Swansea

    YES. I don't believe it. I feel liberated. I shout in excitement as the Chiekhou Kouyate gets himself sent off with the game at 3-1 just after half time and i'm having a party in my room at 4-1 playing against 9 men because I know that even Joey O'Brien's best efforts couldn't mess this up, and even he scores a 7.7 rating. Sigurdsson was truly brilliant and showed exactly why clubs like PSG are after him, and yet exactly why I can't let him go, not yet anyway. Although Llorente may not have scored he did at the very least tear West Ham apart defensively and got himself 3 assists for his troubles, which is more than enough to satisfy me. We completely dominated the game and at last got the slice of luck we'd been waiting for all month. I breathe a huge sigh of relief, content in the knowledge that i've just woke up my flat and the room beneath me at about 3am. But hell to there cosy night, I beat West Ham away from home!

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-22.-swansea-city_-competitions.png

    And with December now over I look at the table and after a pretty dismal month with barely anything to look back fondly at I can be pleased with the fact that we are still outside of the relegation zone, and with a good couple of results could quickly climb as high as 14th in the table. Suddenly i'm feeling very optimistic about this save again!

    Hold that thought...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-23.-jack-cork-bid-henri-brownlow_-inbox.png

    Mauricio Pochetino seems to be trying to rain on my parade. I look at their offer, considering the fact that their bid consists of paltry amounts of cash up front and the rest of the deal built up through bonuses and instalments I tell them to give me £20m up front and £10m over the next 18 months for him and he's there's. They point blank refuse and so i'm greeted by this...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-24.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-4.png

    It turns out that Judas #2 has been taking tips from Judas #1 and wants a move, I tell him i'll sell him for £30m, he says it's to much and kicks off and walks out. I'd hoped Leon Britton would be able to talk him out of this in the first place but ever since my first meeting with Britton and the team i've never really had the impression that he's really a fan of me. So if he thinks that if he can talk Jack Cork out of the club so he can take his place in the line-up, then he's wrong, very wrong indeed. I'll be damned if i'm going to be poached of my best players in the middle of a relegation dog fight, especially as i'm trying to fill the holes in the squad that already exist rather than going out of my way to create new ones.

    This is going to be one very interesting transfer window...
    Last edited by H Brownlow; 08/03/2017 at 06:08 PM.

  17. January Update

    As the clock ticks over to the virtual new year discontent is rife within the dressing room. I never knew Jack Cork was so central to squad morale. The squad are outraged that I refused to cave in to sell one of the clubs best players in the middle of a relegation battle. Understandable really.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-1.-team-meeting.png

    As you'd expect the conversation was quite a short one. Once I explained that they were all being stupid and some of the players leading the revolt (I'm looking at you Gylfi Sigurdsson) have something personal to gain here.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-2.-team-comes-round.png

    They all see sense and agree immediately, even SIgurdsson, maybe he's starting to warm to the idea of staying here. Which is good news because there's no way i'm letting him leave cheap and moneybags PSG seem to have run out of money. However, yet another mutiny aside thanks to my excellent man management skills we head to our first game of 2017 against Crystal Palace. You'll notice there's a lot of changes, 10 in fact. This is due to playing 4 games in 11 days. Unfortunately my usual starting 11 is completely exhausted so the reserves get a start, even Leon Britton and Stephen Kingsley get starts. I have to admit though Crystal Palace seem to be at about full strength, perhaps I have some man management skills to learn yet...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-3.-swansea-v-crystal-palace_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 1-1 Crystal Palace

    Mixed feelings. That's how I feel, i'm happy Borja Baston scored. I'm disappointed we drew at home against 10 men. I'm happy we got a point with a weakened team. I'm disappointed we didn't get a hold of the ball or control the match at any point. Nonetheless, this wasn't a bad point, I didn't expect much going into this game, so i'll take a point. Reluctantly.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-4.-swansea-v-crystal-palace_-analysis-post-match.png

    The FA Cup is here! As you may remember Everton has a clause in his contract whereby we can sign him permanently if we win the FA Cup. So the objective is clear, we have to justify having such a clause in a contract! Plus if I was to win the FA Cup in my first year I would be 3 years ahead of the aims I set out in the original challenge requirements. That really would glorify the progress i'm making here at Swansea. So to make sure that these aren't just empty words I put out a relatively strong side, conscious that a few of my players are still struggling for fitness after the busy Christmas period. Can I lead us to a victory in the first South Wales derby i'm in charge of?

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-5.-swansea-v-cardiff_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 0-0 Cardiff

    No, no I can not. Pretty disappointing game, we dominate the game, create chances, keep the ball, but Baston keeps misfiring as well as Leroy Fer who has not been the player i'd hoped he would be so far. So now we have to go to the Cardiff City Stadium and get a result. Shall we move on?

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-6.-swansea-v-cardiff_-overview-overview.png

    So with the FA cup dream still very much alive I realise that it's January and despite being determined that I wouldn't panic buy and fall victim to new manager syndrome I start scouring the market anyway fearing that more negative results would follow if I didn't. Then I realise just how distorted the market is, how the hell am I supposed to improve my squad when this is the benchmark for a transfer?

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-7.-troy-deeney-%C2%A343m.png

    If Troy Deeney is worth £43m then how the hell am I supposed to get anyone worth buying for my £20m transfer budget? It seems that i'll be doing my transfer window shopping in the FM equivalent to Poundland.

    Without having yet found a single bargain worth having in the FM bargain bin I switch my attention to our next league game against Watford, for the first time this year we name a full strength side and i'm feeling optimistic about our chances. The Nathan Dyer experiment persists on the right wing, i'm pretty sure he was the reason Leicester won the league last year right?

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-8.-swansea-v-watford_-preview-line-ups.png

    Swansea 3-1 Watford

    Gylfi, oh Gylfi, why do you want to leave? I promise I can change. I'll make us better, build us around you. Just please don't leave me. I'm afraid if he leaves us we'll be a bigger mess than Watford with Troy Deeney. Frankly, we tear them apart Only Nathan Dyer and Llorente look like misfits in our fast paced passing football, so they're ripped from the pitch and Everton even gets an assist when he comes on. I was impressed with Jefferson Montero as well who seems to either be hot or cold during games, it's very strange to watch, but magnificent in games like today. A much needed win. Happy days.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-9.-swansea-v-watford_-stats-player-ratings.png

    The red capes are coming! The red capes are coming! Yes, I really did like Batman vs Superman. What a scene. Anyway, red capes in this sense refer to signings, and unlike Lex Luthor these red capes will be my saviour. 3 come in all at once and I couldn't be more pleased.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-10.-henri-brownlow_-inbox.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-11.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-2.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-12.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-3.png

    Reinforcements for both attack and defence here. Firstly, although we are worst in the division for goals scored and my strikers haven't been banging them in, I don't think they are the problem, I don't think enough chances are being consistently created behind them, and so with a view to the developing youth aim set out in this change I made the ambitious signing of Dortmund youngster Emre Mor, he is a talented right winger whom I hope can develop with us and become world class. Next we have the solution to our right back issue, when Kyle Naughton was injured we had the problem of having two right backs to cover for him, but neither was actually capable of doing a job, so I have come up with a stop-gap solution until the end of the season just to plug the hole in the defence and stop us conceding, he's an experienced international and I expect him to make a difference for us. Charlie Taylor is the final signing to announce and i'm delighted to welcome him in. With the English premium on every English players head (see Troy Deeney for reference) to get a young English talent like Charlie for just £5m is a bargain, and certainly not one I could turn down, he's not someone who belongs in a bargain bin, and i'm going to polish this raw diamond into the complete full back I know he can be.

    Despite my jubilance over my signings none of them start my next match against Cardiff, I need experienced heads to guide me through this one, it remains an ambition of mine to go far in this competition and i'm going to need a strong team to make sure that happens. So I play a full strength team, which includes bringing the Nathan Dyer experiment to an abrupt end, it turns out that although Leicester are doing much worse without him, he was surely not the reason that they won the league.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-13.-cardiff-v-swansea_-overview-formations.png

    Cardiff 1-2 Swansea

    So, they took us to extra time, and we got lucky. Not exactly impressive, but it's exactly what we needed, and despite it draining a lot of the players of their fitness it does prove that we have bottle and we can grind out a result, and it proves to be exactly what we need. Fernando Llorente scores as well to put the icing on the cake. We're officially the best team in Wales.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-14.-cardiff-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    The 4th round draw has been especially kind in the aftermath of the game. We draw Bury. Freaking League One Bury! I'm happy for all of 2 seconds until I realise that they represent a huge banana skin on our progress through this competition, but i'm sure we're up for it.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-15.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-4.png

    Up next is a couple of difficult fixtures that I don't hold much hope for. Firstly we have Tottenham. I consider going defensive since we're away from home but I decide to stick with my usual system but I make a few personnel changes instead. Emre Mor, Charlie Taylor and Mathieu Debuchy all come in for their debuts as well as Routledge coming in for Montero on the right wing as I try and make the team play very narrow so they can stick to Llorente and collect the balls that he knocks to him and run at the Tottenham centre backs.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-16.-tottenham-v-swansea_-overview-formations.png

    Tottenham 1-0 Swansea

    1-0 isn't bad really, especially when you consider their 25 shots to my 4. However, Debuchy did get injured on his debut which was far from ideal, the good news is that he's only out for a couple of days but I hope he doesn't start to make a habit out of this. The result takes Tottenham up to 2nd in the table, must be nice...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-17.-tottenham-v-swansea_-analysis-post-match.png

    The second match i'm dreading is against Manchester United, they may not be as high up in the table as Spurs, but they certainly have a more star studded line-up, but it's my job to make sure that my players don't become star struck. We're at Old Trafford and they are not going easy on us judging by their line-up, summer signings Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Mkhitaryan all start accented by Rashford, Martial, De Gea and January signing centre-back Inigo Martinez whom i've signed on FM enough times down the years to know that he is a solid centre back. But I don't panic, I stick with the same team that did a good job of damage limitation against Spurs but bring in Kyle Naughton for the injured Debuchy. May the FM gods be graceful and kind.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-18.-man-utd-v-swansea_-overview-formations.png

    Manchester United 4-1 Swansea

    This game will just chew you up and spit you out if you let it. If I was a petty man i'd try and persuade you about how the referee was biased and how Mourinho has his team of superstars playing like a glorified Stoke City with their 24 fouls but lest it is vain. Pogba scored early with a cracking goal, and I feared for the worst, but my fears were alleviated when Amat scored from a corner. Game on. We went on to have about 4 excellent chances which Llorente and Sigurdsson squander. Then Manchester United cruelly score just before half time, it stung but I had hope in my heart. It's the hope that kills you. So after half time I send my boys out telling them to make me and the fans proud, United promptly score 2. I'd love to tell you what happened for the rest of the game, but truth be told I walked away from my laptop for 10 minutes to compose myself, individual mistakes and being caught on the counter were to blame. But United are good and Mourinho lives for this kind of game, so what am i to do but swallow my pride, accept that i'm just not that good yet and carry on?

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-19.-man-utd-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    Before the next game there's a couple issues I have to contend with, firstly, I look around the squad trying to streamline it, but no one is offering me anything for Joey O'Brien or Angel Rangel or even Wayne Routledge, even when I offer them out for free. So in the hope of raising some funds I sell Leroy Fer for £6m. I had high hopes for him but whenever he's played he's been disappointing so I decided to let him go and reinvest the money elsewhere in the team. Also after the last game after we got kicked off of the pitch by Mourinho's men Jordi Amat is going to be out for 3-4 weeks. Typical.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-20.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-5.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-21.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-6.png

    it's that time again, time for the magic of the FA Cup. Of course hopefully the only magic will be working in my favour, not exactly an impressive trick when you consider i'm a Premier League side against a League One side. But still, after two losses on the bounce we could do with a victory here to boost morale, and so I make changes, making certain to leave out all of my January signings because clearly they just haven't gelled into the squad quite right yet. They're good signings alright?!

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-22.-swansea-v-bury_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 2-1 Bury

    We score 2 in the first 5 minutes, i'm on 7th heaven. I'm speculating whether it'll end 7-0 or 8-0 and debating whether i'll describe it as a "triumph" or just "another day at the office". Unfortunately, none of that was to be and my squad got just as complacent as me in my day dreams. Mid way through the second half Bury score to get back into it, but we just about hold on for the rest of the game. Sigurdsson got a goal and an assist though and that's a good game form him, despite the fact i'm pretty sure he never touched the ball again after the 5th minute, take that PSG, he likes it here, that's why I keep ignoring your calls. Another rare goal from Borja Baston to, but at this point i'm used to my strikers being as consistent as the colour of Djibril Cisse's hair.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-23.-swansea-v-bury_-overview-overview.png

    More good news to, the 5th round draw has been made and we will play either Preston or Ipswich in the next round, so far so good in the FA Cup.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-24.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-8.png

    There's just enough time left in this transfer window for one more signing, one last hurrah, one last chance at saving our season with a panic signing just before deadline day and i'm stuck with this squad for another 6 months. So I spend £3.9m on...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-25.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-7.png

    Harry Wilson! I have to admit, I was surprised he was available for so little money (that might have something to do with the sell on fee percentage that Liverpool put in the deal, it's fine, i'll just never sell him), but considering he's 19 and playing in a position where our only real depth is Wayne Routledge (who i'm desperately trying to show the door to) he's a fine addition, especially considering he is actually Welsh. I have high hopes for him, I hope him and Emre Mor will be some of the best wingers in the league in 5 years time, I just hope i'm still here managing them then. Overall then, this is what our transfers look like...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-26.-swansea-city_-transfer-history.png

    Overall, i'm pleased with the way the transfer window went, I managed to keep my big players, added some quality and some potential and youth to the ranks to freshen things up and managed some positive results along the way. I'm pleased with the direction the club is going in and hope that we can improve upon our current position in the table of 17th, just 2 points above the relegation zone, but with more tough games on the way, I can't be sure any time soon...

  18. Enjoyed reading through that mate, some funny bits in there too! I've no doubt you'll stay up and good look with any further mutiny's!
    H Brownlow likes this.

  19. Quote Originally Posted by WWred View Post
    Enjoyed reading through that mate, some funny bits in there too! I've no doubt you'll stay up and good look with any further mutiny's!

    Haha thanks! I try to have fun with it and i'm glad that's coming across! And thanks, the only problem is there's more mutinies here in one season than there is in the whole Pirates of the Caribbean franchise...

  20. Some good signings there, both for now and the future. Sure you'll stay up with ease and can look forward to next season and really stamping your mark on the team.

  21. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Some good signings there, both for now and the future. Sure you'll stay up with ease and can look forward to next season and really stamping your mark on the team.
    Thanks a lot, it's about balancing building for the future and getting results now. Thanks for reading!

  22. February Update

    Progress hasn't been quite as rapid as i'd hoped, but there's reason to be optimistic! We have a good chance in the FA Cup with some favourable draws so far, no slip ups and some big teams being knocked out early on. However, there are of course one or two reasons to be pessimistic... Our fixture schedule hasn't been kind of late in the league and the next month isn't exactly favourable either, neither Baston or Llorente can get into the goal scoring rhythm, we have a temperamental defence that is near incapable of keeping clean sheets and squad morale is as up and down as a yo-yo thanks to the constant mutinies across the squad who all reckon they can play for bigger clubs (and judging by the offers I've rejected they're right). Definitely reason to be optimistic there, somewhere.

    Regardless, first of all we head to the Liberty Stadium to play Arsenal who were unbeaten when I first came to the club in November, they've since lost twice in the league and made it to the EFL Cup final. So it's fair to say they're not in bad form, but they have shown they can be beaten in recent months, albeit rarely. So to try and exploit this I line up with new signing Charlie Taylor at left back, hopeful that his superior tackling and marking stats will solidify our vulnerable flanks. And to help solve our goal scoring issues once more I change striker to Borja Baston who has looked good coming off of the bench to effect in recent games. I'm feeling optimistic, it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new month for us to show that we're actually not that bad.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-1.-swansea-v-arsenal_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 0-2 Arsenal

    It might look bad, but actually it isn't a horrible result, don't get me wrong, I was hoping for more but given the context of the game it could've been a hell of a lot more worse. We kept the free scoring Arsenal our until the 67th minute, regrettably not long after I made 3 subs to replace the 3 players who weren't performing. Arsenal scored from a corner 9 minutes later to make it 2-0 and the game was gone, but I pushed the team forward in the hope of salvaging something but unfortunately our best chance fell to Kyle Naughton who looked like a deer in headlights in front of goal. Never mind, at the end of the season these won't be the kinds of games that the season hinged on.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-2.-swansea-v-arsenal_-overview-overview.png

    In my earlier troubleshooting of what had been going wrong in the save so far I cited player happiness as a big problem. That suddenly isn't the case, Ben Goodwin the clubs "player liaison officer" informs me that suddenly Jack Cork and Gylfi Sigurdsson are happy with staying at the club, which is fantastic news! That is unless they are plotting some sort of evil sabotage of some upcoming games (no foreshadowing going on here).

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-3.-cork-happy.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-4.-sigurdsson-happy.png

    Buoyed by the news that the "player liaison officer" delivered to me I head into the next game against Southampton again at home, and since we did pretty well for the majority of the game against Arsenal until I went all Claudio Ranieri "Tinkerman" on the team I gave them all another chance in the hope some consistency would breed good results as the team starts to gel. I feel like we're missing Jordi Amat at centre back though, every time either him or Fernandez is injured we ship in goals, Hoorn and Mawson are proving to be useless back up. But hopefully they'll do better today, it's about time we started picking up some points.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-5.-swansea-v-southampton_-preview-line-ups.png

    Swansea 0-2 Southampton

    Would you look at that? Apparently Jack Cork is the saboteur in the squad. Sent off at 0-0 and less than 6 minutes later Southampton are 2-0 up. Wishing i'd taken Spurs' £25m for Jack Cork aside that is our 2nd home defeat in as many games, not exactly impressive form. We need to drastically improve in the coming weeks and an injury to Borja Baston isn't going to help things. Regardless, we go again next week against opposition that are more our level.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-6.-swansea-v-southampton_-overview-overview.png

    Next up is a crucial game against 16th placed Middlesbrough, it's away from home but it couldn't be more crucial that we get at least something here, they're above us and we need to gain ground on them because not even a win would take us above them, so we need to involve them in a relegation dog fight. And to do that i've made a few changes. Defensively Charlie Taylor wasn't doing the trick so i've replaced him with Neil Taylor which is a good option to have, it feels good to have this kind of depth at full back at last, before i'd have to have played Joey O'Brien out of position. Going into midfield replacing (now club captain) Jack Cork is 20 year old Marc Roca who is on loan from Inter Milan, he may be young and uncomfortable as an anchor man but he doesn't have bad stats for it and he could do with the game time, so i'm crossing my fingers with this one. I've also changed a lot of personnel and the playing style up top. Emre Mor comes in for Montero and Everton switches to the left flank so that they can both play as inside forwards to get close to target man Llorente who starts up front in the place of the injured and misfiring Borja Baston. Best of luck boys, make me look like a tactical genius.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-7.-middlesbrough-v-swansea_-preview-line-ups.png

    Middlesbrough 1-2 Swansea

    Excellent. Yes I am indeed a tactical mastermind, or i'll keep telling myself that anyway, maybe once we're above 17th i'll even believe it. But only our 6th win of the season is a hard fought one, again no goals from the strikers but Gylfi Sigurdsson is currently the top scorer in the club with 8 goals and he looks good value for even more. As part of my tactical mastermind i'll just claim that the tactic relies on goals from deep rather than strikers. We draw 4 points ahead of Hull and the relegation zone (with them yet to play). Things are finally coming up Millhouse!

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-8.-middlesbrough-v-swansea_-analysis-post-match.png

    It's that time again. It's the FA Cup and we've already met the boards objective for the competition by making it to the 5th round, but since we are facing Preston i'm expecting us to progress even further. There is however one small hiccup in that Fabianski got injured in training and is out for a week, hopefully he'll only miss this game but nevertheless it makes me glad that I rejected bids for my back up keeper in January Nordfelveltlvl (or something Danish) starts in goal instead. With this glaring weakness in the forefront of my mind I keep the rest of the team the same as the one that beat Middlesbrough, except I give club vice-captain Leon Britton a run out at CDM to see if there's life left in the old legs yet or if he's nothing more than a constant whining in the back of the changing room.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-9.-swansea-v-preston_-preview-line-ups.png

    Swansea 2-1 Preston

    ​Hallelujah! Although, I must admit after Everton scored a fantastic early goal and we controlled possession I just sat back and waited for something to go wrong, but it didn't not until the game was pretty much done at 2-1 at least. Thankfully the players have more bottle than me and saw the game out fantastically. Sorry to dampen the mood immediately after a good performance but...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-11.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-3.png

    Our toughest draw so far by a mile, possibly even the toughest draw we could've got altogether, the only team who even compare to Liverpool left in the competition is Manchester United. I'd sort of hoped that this kind of game would come once i'm already in the final, but I guess if you want to win something then you have to play the best teams, and hey, at least we're at home. Perhaps we can intimidate the Liverpool players with some sort of Welsh man sheep mating tradition.

    Neil Taylor peforming unspeakable acts on a sheep aside our attentions turns to our next league game which low and behold is at home against Liverpool. This is by all means a dress rehearsal for the FA Cup 6th round, therefore there's literally no limits to the importance that I place on this one game. We're lucky that we get a game to size up our opposition before we head to war with them. With that in mind I play my best team against them that I have available, which includes the returns to fitness of Jordi Amat, Debuchy and Fabianski. It looks like Liverpool return the favour by playing what looks like a full strength team, this should be interesting.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-12.-swansea-v-liverpool_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 3-3 Liverpool

    What a game. In all honesty though, we probably should have won, we went 2-0 up and had them on the ropes for most of the game until they brought it back to 2-2, then we went 3-2 up and then with 10 minutes left Liverpool levelled again. Football Manager is a truly heartless game. But, as far as a dress rehearsal goes I was pleased with what I saw, there was no huge disaster, bar our atrocious defending, but Llorente's return to goal scoring form couldn't come at a better time with the last 10 games in the league coming up and a crucial FA Cup game ahead.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-13.-swansea-v-liverpool_-analysis-post-match.png

    All in all, this was a good way to finish February, with a few good results and climbing yet higher in the league and above Middlesbrough at last. It could've been better but hey, this save is supposed to be for the long haul, so it'd just ruin it if I won everything in the first year right?
    Last edited by H Brownlow; 17/03/2017 at 10:54 PM.
    TheBattman likes this.

  23. March Update

    After 4 points from 4 Premier Leagues in February our form is unspectacular but on the way up at least. We have started steadily picking up points and things are looking up despite a few hiccups along the way. We're looking more settled, we have a formation and system that is working for us and the new signings are almost all immediately improving the team. Happy days!

    With this momentum in mind I head to the first game of March against Burnley at Turf Moor. They are currently overachieving in the league in 11th position which despite a huge points gap I don't think there's a big difference between the sides, if anything i'd say we're better. Nonetheless Burnley shouldn't be underestimated, Sean Dyche is setting them up in a standard 4-4-2 formation which is going to cause us problems when it comes to breaking it down, especially getting passed Michael Keane (whom i'm keen to sign in the summer) who has terrific stats in the game. So to try and overcome them I keep the same winning formula that we've had recently with new signings Emre Mor and Debuchy occupying the right hand side of the pitch and they both look to be settling in excellently. We mustn't forget that we're away from home against a team higher up in the league than us so anything can happen here.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-1.-burnley-v-swansea_-preview-line-ups.png

    Burnley 2-2 Swansea

    On reflection this was a fair result but at the time of playing I felt that we got away with it there. After all, we went behind twice, but pegged them back almost immediately. But we did have the majority of the possession away from home which is excellent and we managed to match their shot count. Sigurdsson and Llorente really showed their worth to us here as well, both scoring well taken goals to earn us a point, and at this point although i'd have preferred a win, every point counts in a relegation battle.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-2.-burnley-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    10 games of the Premier League season left and we sit 2 points above the relegation zone, far from secure of our place in the league next year. However, that will have to wait. Because now it's time for the 6th round of the FA Cup, and our quest to fulfil the terms of Everton's loan agreement by winning the tournament is well underway. There is also the small matter of winning a domestic cup within 4 seasons as stated as one of the goals at the start of the story. But that really pales in comparison to Everton's loan terms... With these goals in mind I select the strongest team I possibly can except from one change which is Debuchy exiting the team making way for Kyle Naughtons return, this is regrettably thanks to Debuchy being cup-tied in the competition. Liverpool seem to be taking it pretty seriously to as they name a full strength team despite them currently being in the hunt for a top 4 place. We have to hope that the Liberty Stadium advantage will see us through this after the goal fest that was the game that took place only a couple weeks previously between us.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-3.-swansea-v-liverpool_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 1-0 Liverpool

    Hardly the goal fest that I expected but i'm without doubt delighted! I honestly didn't think we'd be able to edge it, my guess was that we would draw and then we'd lose the replay at Anfield. A mixture of getting the tactics right and the quality of my players shone through here, either that or Liverpool were just really poor. That being said the winning goal from Everton is just proof he wants to stay here in my books, him and Emre Mor dominated the game for us, carrying us forward. Of recent times the other two attackers - Sigurdsson and Llorente - have been our leading lights but Everton and Emre Mor really took this game by the scruff of the neck in many different highlights. Excellent.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-4.-swansea-v-liverpool_-overview-overview.png

    You may remember me saying that there was only Liverpool and Manchester United left in the competition whom you would traditionally consider to be Englands 'big teams'. Well it is with great nervousness that I watched as other results from the other 6th round games poured in and here follows the cherry on top of the cake...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-5.-english-fa-cup_-matches-fixtures-results.png

    Manchester United are out!! To Championship Newcastle nonetheless! And as my reward who would I get in the Semi Final?

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-6.-henri-brownlow_-inbox.png

    The giant killers themselves, Championship opposition in the Semi Final of a domestic cup is in any case a blessing. But they shouldn't be under rated, they were after all the team that knocked out Manchester United, which is even more impressive considering in my last against United I lost 4-1. The only teams left are us, Newcastle, West Brom and Burnley. It's very difficult to call who will win it but at the end of the day we have to really fancy our chances now.

    Not caught up in the spirit of the FA Cup because once more he was watching from the bench, Jefferson Montero comes to me telling me that he's not happy with his playing time and to be honest I was planning to replace him at the end of this season anyway. In a way I already have Everton, Harry Wilson and Wayne Routledge in his position so he isn't really needed, and his only impressive stat is his pace, so I give him the Modou Barrow treatment and tell him he's welcome to leave, he humbly agrees it's for the best. I slam the virtual door behind him and paint his name into one of the virtual seats on the bench so he knows his place.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-7.-jefferson-montero_-interaction-private-chat.png

    Thankfully there's no more visits from the clubs 'player liaison officer' before our next game against Hull. If I was to describe this game in one word, it would be "crucial". And that's because it is, we're both separated in the table by 2 points, i'm in 16th, they are in 18th. I am though only 4 points from bottom so no pressure. Hull line up in a very defensive formation, with the player they beat me to in January, Nathaniel Chalobah (bought for £2m, what a bargain!) lining up against me, I tell Jack Cork to snap him, no one rejects me like that and gets away with it. However, I line up exactly how I did against Liverpool but tell the team to dominate the ball more than we did against Liverpool. The reason I want to keep the team the same, despite being able to change is for one simple reason, they didn't concede against Liverpool, and i'm desperate for our defense to improve the way our attack has, or at least Sigurdsson has. Needless to say of course Jefferson Montero is plastered to the bench. I'll enjoy watching him suffer.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-8.-swansea-v-hull_-preview-line-ups.png

    Swansea 3-0 Hull

    Finally, conclusive proof of what i've been saying all along, we really shouldn't be involved in a relegation battle, we're a class above this Hull team. Everton scores for the second game in a row and Gylfi Sigurdsson is just at his usual, unbeatable best, scoring twice and getting an assist. I had planned on cashing in on Gylfi in the summer as he's likely to try and force a move but with the way he's playing it's difficult to imagine a way a team like Swansea can replace a player of this kind of class.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-9.-swansea-v-hull_-overview-overview.png

    Next up is a game against 4th placed Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. There's a pleasant circularity to this fixture. When I first began this challenge my first game was against Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium which I described as a baptism of fire, and given the fact we're still in a relegation battle the fixture again feels like poor timing. However, last time round I beat Chelsea 1-0, and they're lining up largely the same again so in a funny way I feel like i've got the measure of them, they've got no Joey O'Brien to try and exploit this time round so I feel we're largely improved and I think we can give it a good shot.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-10.-chelsea-v-swansea_-overview-formations.png

    Chelsea 2-3 Swansea

    We're on fire right now! We've gone from not being able to score a goal if our life depended on it to smashing them in for fun. We led for pretty much the whole game and the most pleasing part of the whole win despite the over achievement was the debut of one Liam Cullen. The 17 year old Welsh Striker came on for Llorente - thanks to Borja Baston being injured - because I noticed that John Terry wasn't playing well, so I put on the pacier 17 year old and told him to run at the defence, and several times he got through and despite missing a couple chances he looked sharp. That was until the 82nd minute when he set up Emre Mor for what turned out to be the winning goal. Fantastic. I shouldn't avoid the fact that this was also probably Emre Mor's best game for Swansea since he signed in January with a goal and assist to his name. Positives all around and I couldn't be happier about it!

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-11.-chelsea-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    We end the month in 16th position still, but despite being in the same position as we were at the start of the month the table looks much healthier, we're currently 7 points above Sunderland who are now 18th, our thrashing of Hull pushed them down to 20th in the table showing just how quickly things can change. We're 3 points from 13th place as things stands, it feels good to be looking up the table rather than over my shoulder for once in this save.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-12.-swansea-city_-competitions.png

    As if there wasn't enough to be happy about we pick up 3 different monthly Premier League awards...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-13.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-2.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-14.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-3.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-15.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-4.png

    This serves as credit to the unbelievable month we've had. To makes things even better the board have even spoke to me for the first time since December when I asked if we could have a new training ground and they told me to get lost to offer me a new year 2 year contract. I try and negotiate it to 4 years, then 3 years, then when i'm rejected again I ask for another £1k a week, they tell me i'm lucky to get a new contract at all, I promptly agree and sign my virtual life away.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-16.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-5.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-17.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-6.png

    Despite a tight board that would put even Daniel Levy to shame i'm feeling a renewed sense of optimism. We're looking good in the FA Cup, performing miracles in both that and the league as we prepare to charge up the table. With 7 crucial games left in the season we've picked up some vital momentum at just the right time and I can only hope it continues for the next 10 years of this save...
    Last edited by H Brownlow; 20/03/2017 at 01:57 PM.

  24. Making good strides mate, starting to get the team playing how you want to

  25. April Update

    7 games unbeaten, 5 of those in the league, have seriously turned around our season. Coming into January about a month after taking over I had only won one of my 7 games in December, so to be in this position now where we're heading towards mid table in the league and have a fantastic chance at a cup to go with it! What could possibly go wrong?

    Well the first club to try and break my spirit would be Stoke at home, the only players out of this game were Debuchy through injury and Jack Cork through suspension (again). I'm starting to warm to Kyle Naughton though, he was horrendous at first, made to look appealing by the alternative being playing Joey O'Brien, but now he's building up some form, I hope he stays true to that. Stoke on the other hand have a solid team. I looked at Sobhi before the game and he looks immense, him and Shaqiri could do some damage to any team and Shawcross and Butland are a defensive forced that are not to be messed with, even if they are flanked by an ageing Glen Johnson, the incapable sidekick to them like Spongebob to Squidward.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-1.-swansea-v-stoke_-preview-line-ups.png

    Swansea 3-3 Stoke

    What a game for the neutral! Unfortunately i'm not a neutral, i'm heavily biased and on the back of beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge being on the backfoot the whole game at home was horrendous to see. On the positive side of things Llorente finally scored, twice no less! Everton keeps up his tremendous form to. But, then again we didn't control possession as i'd hoped and our defence was poor again, spared only by Geoff Cameron missing a penalty in the 90th minute which took Fabianski's rating from a 6.1 to a 7.1. Saving a penalty made the game forget about how he'd already conceded 3 goals apparently, fair play to him if he's found a way to cheat the system but he won't fool me.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-2.-swansea-v-stoke_-overview-overview.png

    It's started to occur to me that i'm starting to accumulate a number of players within my squad that i've blacklisted, for future reference i'm going to dub this my "Naughty list". So far I've got Joey O'Brien, Angel Rangel and Nathan Dyer on there to fester and wait for the summer to dispose of, a mixture of being poor and playing like and then complaining that they're not playing enough is the reason for my disgust at them. Nathan Dyer even had the nerve to claim he was playing well, it's as if he thought I didn't have access to the stats concerning his recent form. Although, perhaps 6.5 is good for him, it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

    Nevertheless we move on to our next home game against Bournemouth, secretly this game rattled me early in December when we first played them at their ground so i've been looking forward to this game for a while. I put out exactly the same team that played against Stoke but I set out my defensive instructions to deal with the threat of Callum Wilson and Jack Wilshere. If neither one of them leaves in crutches then I know one out of Britton or Fernandez has disobeyed my orders. But yeah, apart from foaming at the mouth for blood, play good football out there boys...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-3.-swansea-v-bournemouth_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 2-1 Bournemouth

    Make no mistake, that was a let off, we're not playing as well as we were that's for sure. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored twice within the first 15 minutes at which point I thought this was going to be a rout. However, neither one of Wilshere or Wilson was injured come the end of the game and we paid the price as Wilshere cut open our defence with a killer pass and Pugh finished it off. From that point on wards our defence had it's work cut out to keep Bournemouth out having already kept out a Callum Wilson penalty on the 45th minute, right before half time. A good result on paper but complacency is setting in a bit I think.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-4.-swansea-v-bournemouth_-overview-overview.png

    I can complain as much as I want about complacency but at the end of the day we're now 9 games unbeaten, that's just under a quarter of a Premier League season and I couldn't be any more proud of the team. Since we've finally found our stride I make only one change for our game against Sunderland and that's to bring captain Jack Cork back into the team, fairly straight forward really. As it stands they're inside the relegation zone, only just, but it should still be an easy win for us despite their form picking up recently. Just to add some importance to this game though this is our last game before the FA Cup Semi-Final against Newcastle, so our warm up game on Wearside had better carry on our good form for our most important game of the season.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-5.-sunderland-v-swansea_-overview-formations.png

    Sunderland 2-1 Swansea

    You may have noticed a bit of foreshadowing in my build up to this game, that's because this game literally couldn't have gone any worse. As far as a practice run could go for an FA Cup semi-final we lost our best player - Gylfi Sigurdsson - to injury in the 22nd minute, straight after they scored to make it 1-0, talk about a double blow. To make matters worse they completely dominated the match, Llorente drew the scores level temporarily but that just angered Sunderland to score more. A win for Sunderland takes them outside of the relegation zone. A loss for us just heightens my anxiety for the FA Cup Semi-Final.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-6.-sunderland-v-swansea_-analysis-post-match.png

    To allow you to understand how much of a key player Gylfi is for my tactic and the team i'll run you through some stats. Gylfi is our top goal scorer, our top assist maker, has our highest average rating, our highest pass completion rate and has the most man of the match awards. He truly is crucial to our team, and an injury for the biggest game of the season is unacceptable. But there was light at the end of the tunnel, I get this message pop up telling me that Gylfi has a thigh strain and he is eligible for injections to get through the Semi-Final, for such a big game in the context of our season you're damn right he's getting injections. Hell, i'll do it myself if he's feeling squeamish.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-7.-henri-brownlow_-inbox.png

    The next email I get is from my player liaison officer Ben Goodwin, whenever he comes around it's never good news. There's not a single way I could hate this man more. He could blow up an orphanage full of underprivileged children and I wouldn't feel less of him. Ben gives me the terrific news that Gylfi Snakerdsson has refused to have pain killing injections on his thigh for the biggest game of the entire season.

    After i'm done screaming into a pillow I attend the meeting with Gylfi which Ben has kindly arranged for us and it goes exactly as i'd feared, apparently shouting profanities at your laptop doesn't help matters. I insist that Snakerdsson show some commitment to the club and take the injections, he promptly refuses, offers up no good reason and leaves in a hissy fit with his tampon hanging between his legs and I go outside and bludgeon Ben Goodwins head in for making Snakerdsson think his concerns were valid. Then I wake up, take a deep breath and press continue on my laptop, unsure as to whether i've become to consumed in the virtual world. The lines between the virtual and real world are blurring at least that's for sure.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-9.-gylfi-sigurdsson_-interaction-private-chat.png

    And so I exact my revenge. My naughty list has a new addition to it. Sigurdsson's name will forever be blacklisted in my mind. I can't accept his poor attitude and his bigger than the club mentality, I don't care if he's as good as Joey O'Brien or our best player, no one is better than the club and he clearly thinks he is. Whilst i've been here he's caused more trouble for me than anyone else, no matter how much anyone else has tried. So he leaves me with no choice but to place him in the Under 23's where he'll rot with Jefferson Montero and Joey O'Brien until the end of the season. Ben Goodwin is kind enough to send me an email telling me that Sigurdsson is having some "personal" problems and wants to discuss them, so I tell him to shove his politically correct crap and decline to talk to him or Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson is dead to me, Ben Goodwin is just a shadow of a man to me.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-10.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-3.png

    Thanks to the cowardice and lack of professionalism displayed by Gylfi Sigurdsson i'm forced to rotate my team but I refuse to completely change the system that has served me so well in the last 10 games. Taking Sigurdsson's place at the focal point of the team is Everton who is replaced on left wing by Harry Wilson. For our first game at Wembley in this save i'm decidedly unhappy and pessimistic considering the circumstances. We're playing a Championship team here after all. Actually, this is a Championship team who knocked out Manchester United in the last round and who knocked our Manchester City in the round before, by contrast the best teams I've knocked out have been Liverpool and Cardiff. Newcastle have proved themselves to be giant killers and i'm just the latest to be offered up to be embarrassed by 'the spirit of the FA Cup'. Despite this aura of pessimism it's the Semi-Final of a domestic tournament and our first appearance at Wembley in this save and we've got to make the most of it.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-11.-swansea-v-newcastle_-preview-line-ups.png

    Swansea 0-1 Newcastle

    Isn't Football Manager fun? This is what having fun feels like right? Right?! Llorente scored an own goal from a corner after 15 minutes and after that the game stalled. We hadn't had a single highlight until Jonjo Shelvey got sent off in the 39th minute giving me a flurry of hope, we had an hour to play against a Championship side. It seemed possible. It wasn't. My front four couldn't produce the goods, Llorente, Wilson and Everton all got hauled off for truly abysmal displays. But really I saw this coming. It's because our tactic has been built around Sigurdsson, that's why Llorente plays, so that he can support Sigurdsson and get him the ball around the box, and Everton just wasn't familiar enough with the position to be able to be a straight replacement for him. That was more than reflected in his 6.5 rating. What if's cross through my mind of what could have been in alternate realities but in truth this is just a harsh reflection of where this team is at. This result will have ramifications for the rest of this season and for the summer transfer window when I look to ship out all of these 'players' that i've inherited that have let me down when put on the greatest stage of all in the footballing world, Wembley. The dream is dead.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-12.-swansea-v-newcastle_-overview-overview.png

    Still weeping openly to the sound of Fergie - Big Girls Don't Cry in the background I advance to our next game, against West Brom. Now our big problem this season has been our defence, since January our goalscoring has improved drastically, unfortunately though that is largely thanks to the efforts of he who shall not be named (and i'm not talking about Voldemort). So in order to adjust our system I go defensive, I give Alfie Mawson one last chance to prove himself before the end of the season, he's English and relatively young, I want him to do well. But my coaches inform me that he's playing close to his max potential and truth be told he's currently playing appallingly so I give him one more chance to prove his worth to the team. Apart from that we play 3 at the back and push the full backs up into wing backs. Since there's now no attacking midfielder to support I give Borja Baston another chance up front who like Mawson has been hot and cold this season. But being the merciful God, sorry, I mean manager, that I am I hand him another chance, largely being seduced by his stats again. West Brom field a strong team that includes Martin Odegaard and a couple of my transfer targets for the summer (i'll leave you guessing who). The FM lords know we need a result here, a result will see us likely survive relegation and bounce back from the FA Cup upset.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-13.-west-brom-v-swansea_-overview-formations.png

    West Brom 2-0 Swansea

    I'm not Mourinho, i'm not going to try and convince you that there's some sort of conspiracy out there that's working against me, instead i'm just going to be blunt and say we simply weren't good enough. For the 2nd Premier League game in a row we lose against a team in the relegation zone, far from ideal. Only 3 games ago we were 9 games unbeaten, now we've lost 3 in a row, with one of those being at Wembley. I've gone from jubilant to distraught, my mood is worse than that of a bipolar, angsty teenager. And it's all Gylfi Sigurdsson's fault. This is quite a come down.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-14.-west-brom-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    So, it's now the end of April and for a month that started off with such rife positivity it's ended with infuriating negativity, nevertheless our earlier good form has seen us move to within reach of the mathematical security of avoiding relegation. 5 points clear of West Brom with 3 games left means I only need one more win to get away from the relegation zone, and given the sucker punch that they just gave me nothing would sit better with me than to get them relegated. With 3 games left of the season I look forward to trying out some new systems and line-ups to start preparing my squad for next season with the faults of the squad being so brutally exposed in the last few games.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-15.-swansea-city_-competitions.png

  26. Whilst I'm glad to see Newcastle in the final it's been a hard month for you. Can't believe your key player wouldn't take the injections and then queried why he was in the U23's.

    Anyway back for him or will he be sold to the highest bidder in the summer?

  27. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Whilst I'm glad to see Newcastle in the final it's been a hard month for you. Can't believe your key player wouldn't take the injections and then queried why he was in the U23's.

    Anyway back for him or will he be sold to the highest bidder in the summer?

    Absolutely not! He's ostracised now, I don't want to hear about him now until PSG come back for him in the summer, i'll take anything £30m+ for him. He may be my best player but I don't have time for a player that you just can't rely on when you need them most..
    neavie pops23 likes this.

  28. May Update

    Our season is pretty much done, we're all but safe in the Premier League and the FA Cup dream is dead. All we can do now is mathematically secure our safety and experiment with systems in the next couple league games to find out how best to play next season. The first experiment will be against Manchester City, and as things stand they sit 6th in the league behind Liverpool in 5th and WATFORD in 4th, Watford?! Naturally i'm not kind to Guardiola for his failure...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-1.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-4.png

    Calling for a fellow managers sacking is probably a little bit taboo among the football management community in real life or in game but with my team in dire form I need to look for any sort of advantage I can get over the opposition. We've got a mixed record against teams that are considered the 'elite' in the league so I look to set up defensively, keeping the same system that I used last game, but since Alfie Mawson was cast to the bottomless pit that is my U23's Van der Hoorn comes in to cover for him before he suffers a similar fate at the end of the season. Apart from that the team remains largely the same apart from Llorente comes back in to fight for his place and his 75k a week salary.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-2.-man-city-v-swansea_-overview-formations.png

    Man City 1-2 Swansea

    One for the fans this, we went 1-0 down in the 11th minute to a scrappy Nolito goal after Van der Hoorn gave the ball away (another one for my naughty list) and I feared for the worst. However, Everton scored 20 minutes later to level it up and I must say of all of the players i'm about to let go this summer Everton's loan deal coming to an end is one I feel that I am going to regret, he's been fantastic recently. After Emre Mor assisted Everton's goal he went off and scored his own, he too has come into form recently and at the age of just 19 I hope this is a sign of things to come from him, the minimum fee release clause in his contract of just £20m worries me though. Regardless we win 2-1 against Manchester City in their own back yard.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-3.-man-city-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-4.-henri-brownlow_-inbox-5.png

    So there we have it, with an unlikely win against Manchester City away from home we have fulfilled our mission objective of avoiding relegation. However, if i'm to do well i'm going to need to overhaul this squad because i've been consistently underwhelmed with what i've seen from them. Nevertheless, the first of our last 2 games of the season is against Leicester, the reigning champions, again away from home. I line up with exactly the same team because again we're playing away against a good team. I tell my players I have low expectations for them, and this could well prove to be Everton's last game for the club before his loan runs out so I wave a goodbye to him.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-5.-leicester-v-swansea_-overview-formations.png

    Leicester 2-1 Swansea

    Well, there's not usually much shame in losing to the reigning champions and I don't feel any here either. They may not be tearing the league up this year but they're still good and we ran them close. Llorente looked like he might even have been worth a fraction of his wages this week as he scored early on and did nothing for the rest of the game. We struggled to keep hold of the ball though and we didn't have the bite to capitalise on Leicester being down to 10 men late on, so i'll be trying a different system next game that promotes the passing game that I want to get this team passing so next season I can build a team around the 'Swansea way'.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-6.-leicester-v-swansea_-overview-overview.png

    Going into the last game of the season i'm making a few big changes which include playing a 4-3-3 formation reminiscent of that used by Guardiola's Barca in their glory days. My David Villa on the left wing will be 20 year old Harry Wilson, pretty much the same player really... Liam Cullen also gets his first start for me because, well, he can't be any more inconsistent than Borja Baston or Llorente. Roca also comes in at centre midfield because i'd rather give a game to him than Leon Britton who's consistently poor, old and moody. In case you haven't guessed already he's currently training with the U23's too. I just hope we can lay down some ground work for next season here by getting something against a full strength Everton team.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-7.-swansea-v-everton_-overview-formations.png

    Swansea 1-0 Everton

    Ecstatic with this, 61% possession 17 shots, Harry Wilson with the winning goal it truly is the perfect end to the season. The only blemish on the game was the fact that Liam Cullen played a 6.3 after missing a host of chances, but I refuse to lose faith in youth. Even if I do have to send him out on loan next season, but i'll see if I sell Baston or Llorente to make space for him or any other signings.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-8.-swansea-v-everton_-overview-overview.png

    And it's over, we finish 16th in the league on 42 points, comfortably avoiding relegation in the process. Despite not playing the last 6 games of the season Gylfi Sigurdsson remains the top scorer on 14 goals, top assister on 9 assists and most of the match awards with 5. He was by all accounts our top player, which makes his betrayal all the more detrimental and disappointing to our season, but I won't make that mistake next year. He'll be shipped out ASAP and i'll build the team around our possession philosophy.

    The personal highlight from this season was doing the double over Chelsea in the league, that was a mighty accomplishment. Taking over Swansea when they were 19th made this season difficult, but that's just part and parcel of the challenge. I've seen enough from certain players in the team to be optimistic looking forward. I've told the team I expect a mid-table finish, but really i'm hoping for the top half and a cup run again, hoping that this time we can go one more and get to a final. That's the dream at least.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-9.-english-premier-division_-overview-stages.png

  29. Warford in 4th is just crazy! Survived with ease in the end though and looking forward to seeing who comes in during the summer and how much you can raise from those you ship out? Which team got promoted?

  30. i have just started mine an i got middlebrough

  31. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Warford in 4th is just crazy! Survived with ease in the end though and looking forward to seeing who comes in during the summer and how much you can raise from those you ship out? Which team got promoted?

    Yeah that'll be an interesting one because a lot of the players i'm aiming to get rid of are just worthless dead wood so apart from Sigurdsson I don't anticipate many other big money departures unless they force my hand.. And that's an interesting question because Newcastle nearly lost it on the last day of the season when they dropped points but won on GD anyway!

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-sky-bet-championship_-overview-stages.png

  32. Quote Originally Posted by Cbarber871 View Post
    i have just started mine an i got middlebrough

    That's awesome, let me know how you do with them! They're a good team, you should be able to do better with them than how they're doing in real life! Negredo will do the business for you by himself I think haha. I have to admit I was kind of hoping for them in this challenge simply because they have such amazing facilities, you're granted a top player in the youth intakes! The best I got at Swansea was a "defensive striker" with 6 finishing...

  33. aye but with time you may get a decent player

  34. Quote Originally Posted by Cbarber871 View Post
    aye but with time you may get a decent player
    That's the hope! I just need to get some money in the club so the board thinks we can afford to upgrade the facilities!

  35. Summer Transfer Update

    It's a new dawn, it's a new day and i'm feeling... Well, i'm feeling good. I'm currently sat on the 5th August 2017 the day before the first game of the season against Bournemouth and I feel confident. But first, I must take you through my summer activity. You'll notice there's some sizeable departures in the picture below.

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-1.-swansea-city_-transfer-history.png

    Sigurdsson went almost immediately, perhaps the only player in history to go from the Swansea reserves to PSG and at £34m I was happy to see the back of him. Unfortunately though the board is so tight that they only give me half of that to spend, despite me asking to receive more. The board seems intent on making this challenge even harder. If i'm to work with the tight budget i've been sent I needed to sell more players and get the really big earners who don't contribute enough off my wage bill. As my biggest earner and even more inconsistent Llorente went to Everton for £3.4m, presumably as their replacement for Lukaku who moved to Chelsea for £35m. Other noticeable outs include Dyer, Tabanou, Montero, Bartley, Der Hoorn, Mawson, Gomis, Britton and Routledge. All dead wood who were on sizeable wages and make room for the following players to come in...

    Emil Forsberg

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-2.-emil-forsberg_-overview-profile.png

    For an original £9m rising to £12m Forsberg is the ruby jewel to my crown, I have 2 young promising left wingers already so I needed a top winger to play on the left for the next couple years and Forsberg is definitely that, with any luck he'll play well and he'll triple in value by the time I have some replacements lined up for him. But for now the hope is he can carry us through games, creating chances and scoring goals as an inside forward cutting inside. I'm surprised he wanted to sign for us but delighted he did.

    Jonny Evans

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-3.-jonny-evans_-overview-profile.png

    £8m for a 29 year old may not look like a good deal on the face of it, but he is one of two West Brom players that I signed after they got relegated. And let's face it, his stats are incredible, he's a definite upgrade on what I had already, I just need my full backs to develop and i'll have a solid defence. Evans is certainly good enough to remain in the team for about another 3 years, and in that time we can progress up the table and he'll be brilliant for tutoring youngsters.

    Predrag Rajkovic

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-4.-predrag-rajkovic_-overview-profile.png

    Rajkovic is a name you might recognise. He's 21 and already as good as Fabianski despite being 10 years younger than him, his talent is phenomenal. £7m for a goalkeeper may have taken a chunk out of my budget now but if he spends the next 5-10 years here getting better then it will look like a bargain, and on 40k per week wages for a first team player he fits within my wage structure to.

    Muhamed Besic

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-5..png

    It occurred to me that i'm light on options in midfield now i've let some loan signings and Leon Britton go, so to back up Jack Cork I signed Besic from Everton for £5.75m. My assistant doesn't seem to think much to him but his stats look brilliant for the role he'll play in the team and his wages aren't excessive at 30k a week. He'll make fantastic back-up and might even get promoted to the first team if he plays well.

    Guillermo Varela

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-6.-guillermo-varela_-overview-profile.png

    I'll admit, I was struggling to find a good full back, and I wasn't entirely happy with just having Kyle Naughton at right back. But I am still happy with what I found, not a regular starter at United but he's still amassed some impressive stats and I think I can get the best out of him. For just £3.5m and £17.5k a week he's a bargain.

    Lucas Silva

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-7.-lucas-silva_-overview-profile.png

    That's right, we signed a Real Madrid player, he's even played for them and everything. However, he will likely be back up for Ki Sung-Yeung and since he's already doubled in value i'm sure he'll progress and represent a good deal for us by the time he leaves.

    Saido Berahino

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-8.-saido-berahino_-overview-profile.png

    It took a lot of negotiating, a lot of rejections. But I finally got my man. Berahino has the potential to be a fantastic striker for Swansea and England, and at just 24 it's an opportunity to sign him for as little as £3m that I could not turn down. We signed him despite competition from Chelsea and Tottenham, so for that reason i'm delighted. There was goals that needed replacing in the team after the departure of Sigurdsson and i'm confident that Berahino, Forsberg and Mor can be the front line to do it.

    Patrick Bamford

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-9.-patrick-bamford_-overview-profile.png

    This signing will be simply for backup, with this I expect to send Liam Cullen out on loan to get some first team experience and Bamford will back up Berahino and Baston, he has some good stats and if a couple more go up one or two he'll be a great striker, and since he cost £2m and is on £15k a week he makes for a bargain to add depth to the team.

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek & Joe Gomez

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-11.-ruben-loftus-cheek_-overview-profile.pngCan Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-12.-joe-gomez_-overview-profile.png

    These two signings were made simply to fill out my squad, I needed some more depth at central midfield thanks to an incident with another new signing which i'll deal with next.. But Joe Gomez also comes in as my 4th choice centre back behind, Fernandez, Amat and Evans and he can also play either right back or left back, making him ideal.

    Yann M'Vila

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-10.-yann-mvila_-overview-profile.png

    What a player. What a deal. I got the guy on a free! He has some fantastic stats to, I was so keen to sign him on a free in fact that I signed him up on a pre-contract in March. Smart right? Wrong. Turns out no less than a couple weeks before he was due to come and sign for me he damaged cruciate ligaments whilst he was training with France. Typical. Now he misses the next 7-9 months and forced me to sign Ruben Loftus Cheek on loan because my budget was already depleted. So now i'm paying 58k a week to him for him to use my physios for the bulk of his first season with the club. He went from being an ideal signing with experience in the Premier League to being a shadow over an otherwise brilliant summer transfer window.

    That concludes my transfer business. Now the only other component of pre-season that needs to be dealt with is a quick briefing of our pre-season tour to China where we played the following teams...

    Can Lightening Strike Twice? The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge.-13.-swansea-city_-senior-fixtures.png

    The standout performers from these games were Berahino who scored 3, Emre Mor who scored 3 and Jack Cork who scored twice. To win 4 out of 5 games is fantastic, and we've built up the fitness and tactical knowledge to go into the Premier League season quietly confident of building on our 16th place finish last year, I feel like the team is better now so i'm hoping to see progress on the field. Roll on Bournemouth.

  36. Some very good signings there

  37. Some decent players there, fingers crossed for the coming season!

  38. Thanks guys, hopefully it will be building towards something!

  39. Goodluck with the new season ahead! Some very good players signed

  40. Forsberg Varela and Rajkovic have all cost over £30m at some point in my save so good buys imo

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  41. Quote Originally Posted by issteo View Post
    Goodluck with the new season ahead! Some very good players signed
    Thanks a lot! They're something to build a team around at least

  42. Quote Originally Posted by foreveryyoung View Post
    Forsberg Varela and Rajkovic have all cost over £30m at some point in my save so good buys imo

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Thanks, i'm not sure how Forsberg and Varela will pan out hopefully well. But I was delighted to get Rajkovic even though I wasn't necessarily looking for a 'keeper.

  43. i will have an update soon on mine..including a shock or two

  44. Quote Originally Posted by Cbarber871 View Post
    i will have an update soon on mine..including a shock or two

    I'll check it out mate!

  45. Update

    I've decided that i'm going to try a different format for a couple seasons of the save to see how it goes. Since this is a long term save and hopefully a lot of seasons i'll be documenting the next couple in full season reports rather than month-by-month to speed up the challenge. Let me know how you think it compares once the updates are out and let me know what you prefer!


  46. Quote Originally Posted by H Brownlow View Post
    I've decided that i'm going to try a different format for a couple seasons of the save to see how it goes. Since this is a long term save and hopefully a lot of seasons i'll be documenting the next couple in full season reports rather than month-by-month to speed up the challenge. Let me know how you think it compares once the updates are out and let me know what you prefer!


    however you wish it will be a good read

    mine has had a great start

  47. looks like you had a good window!

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