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‘Football Manager 2022’: My Season With Newcastle United And £200 Million

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‘Football Manager 2022’: My Season With Newcastle United And £200 Million

‘Here Comes The Money’ by Naughty By Nature plays as I walk out of the boardroom at St James’ Park, the new manager of Newcastle United football club. Excited by the challenge in front of me, I’m going to be taking you through my first season with the Magpies on Football Manager 2022 - going through all the transfers, tactics, wins, losses and water bottle throws along the way.

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Now, I’m by no means a FM expert and I’m sure some of you reading this may be eager to point out flaws in my managerial credentials - but this is purely for fun. That, and to see what happens when you’re given a £200 million transfer budget and one of the worst squads in the Premier League. Sometimes, reality is wilder than fantasy. Eddie Howe, I hope you’re taking notes. Before we begin, why not have a look at some of the most exciting teams to manage in Football Manager.

Newcastle United Sold (Credit: PA)
Newcastle United Sold (Credit: PA)

The Summer Transfer Window

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My first day on the job, packed lunch in hand, and the board tells me they expected at least a top-half finish as well as decent cup runs - nothing less than quarter-finals would be satisfactory. Well, that shouldn’t be a problem with the questionably large amount of money at my disposal, right? Wrong. Even though I have more money than in a Mr Krabs fever dream, no players of any note immediately want to move to the Toon. I slide into Kylian Mbappé’s DMs and he tells me to jog on in 0.2 seconds. My plans might have to change.

From Newcastle’s squad at the start of the season, I maybe want to keep Allan Saint-Maximin, Joe Willock and Callum Wilson. Everyone else is basically surplus to requirement. So that leaves me with eight positions to fill, as well as some substitutes to account for any injuries and suspensions. About £20 million per player then? Should be doable.

My first signing is right back Kevin Mbabu from Wolfsburg, for around £12 million. Mbabu used to be in the Newcastle setup, so I think he counts as a home-grown talent. Beyond the Toon, he’s made a name for himself across Europe as well as performing well for the Swiss national side. Shrewd business from me. I also add West Ham’s Declan Rice and Brighton’s Leandro Trossard to my transfer targets. I reckon they could be solid additions to the team, even if it may cost a significant chunk of my budget to get Big Dec.

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Declan Rice (Credit: PA)
Declan Rice (Credit: PA)

Most of the squad players are now listed on the transfer market, but I’m not getting many offers. Maybe the Longstaff brothers are destined to stay here for eternity. Ryan Fraser and Jonjo Shelvey depart for a combined £20 million, giving me even more coin to play with. Which is needed because, oh no… I didn’t realise that adding players as targets would mean that my backroom staff would buy them! We’ve just bought Declan Rice for £90 million and Trossard for £27 million. I’m happy to have them on board, but that’s a lot of notes out of my back pocket. Sorry, out of the back pocket of Newcastle’s mega-rich owners, who made their millions totally ethically. Oh no, anyway.

My next arrival is none other than TheCyclingGK himself, Ben Foster, for £400k. Now, I haven’t signed Ben for his goalkeeping ability (although he still has it, at the beautiful age of 38) - I’ve signed him to get into his vlogs. I’m going to ensure his GoPro is in the goal for every match. Newcastle United are going to be everyone’s second team thanks to his social media prowess. Nice one Ben, what a ledge.

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Ben 'TheCyclingGK' Foster (Credit: Watford FC)
Ben 'TheCyclingGK' Foster (Credit: Watford FC)

My scout notifies me that Italian forward Andrea Belotti may be available, as his contract at Torino is running out. Bingo. A cool £22 million later, and he’s the talk of the Toon. He’ll probably take Callum Wilson’s place as a lone striker but they could work up top together, we’ll see.

A few weeks of game time pass and I’ve forgotten about a ridiculous bid I put in for Canadian left back Alphonso Davies. Bayern Munich have agreed to let the 20 year old go for £77 million plus installments. “Fortune favours the bold,” I tell myself as I press the ‘Accept’ button. We may now have broken Newcastle’s transfer record twice in quick succession, but the squad will be eating Tesco meal deals for most of the season!

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With only around £10 million left, I still need at least two centre backs, an attacking midfielder and probably some back up. Let’s see who we can get on loan.

After impressing in real life this season, Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah comes in on loan with the option to buy at the end of the season. Similarly, teenage wonderkid Ryan Gravenberch is welcomed from Ajax Amsterdam. I’m excited to see what he can do in the CAM role. Also, he’s only £25 million to buy next season, which I think could be a steal.

Loads of deals have fallen through now, but I still need another centre back, so we’re going to have to get something done on transfer deadline day. Suit on, biscuits out, time to get to work. Also, I finally notice that a player called Santiago Muñoz was brought in just before I took charge, unbelievable. For those who don’t know, Santiago Munez was the main character in cult football movie Goal, where a Mexican player gets scouted for Newcastle United. It was written in the stars. If we ever play Fulham I’m going to have to bring him on. 

I’m looking over my shoulder for flashing lights and listening out for a siren because there’s been a robbery! I’ve stolen Niklas Süle from Bayern Munich for £12 million. Apparently he’s a decent defender and has a habit of banging in bullet headers. So I can hopefully shout his name in the same manner as Cristiano Ronaldo does when he scores, saving Manchester United from yet another embarrassing result. Siuuuuuu!

That’s it, almost 10 hours of play time later, we have an actual squad of eleven players and are ready for the season ahead, let’s go!

My Newcastle Team (Credit: SEGA)
My Newcastle Team (Credit: SEGA)

The Season Starts - August

I can’t believe it! We open the season with a 3-0 victory over Chelsea, as new striker Belotti bags a brace. What a perfect start to the campaign. Aston Villa are sent back home crying after a 2-0 victory and another two goals from Belotti. Fans have already put his face on the Angel of the North. Things are all coming up Milhouse - or, perhaps, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. Carlisle next in the Carabao Cup, so I’m changing up the squad a bit as we should progress even with a weaker team. Yep, 2-1 and we’re through. Three out of three wins in my first month at the helm - Alan Shearer probably has a picture of me next to his bed.

September

Two defeats back to back against Everton and Wolves. Sh*t. Maybe it’s not always sunny in Newcastle. The Carabao Cup returns for another round, so hopefully we can turn the tide against Leicester. Debutant Ryan Gravenberch, just 19, collects the man of the match trophy for a goal and an assist, and we’re into the draw for the next round. Back on track? You’re damn right. September finishes with a tricky home fixture against Manchester United, made even harder when Belotti decides to two-foot Ronaldo in the 60th minute to earn himself a red card. It’s still goaless though, maybe if we play on the counter we can get something from the game. It’s the 81st minute and we’ve a free kick on the edge of the box. Niklas Süle leaps like a salmon and fires a header past De Gea’s flailing arms. One-nil to the Magpies. Suuuuuule!

October

Games against Brentford, Southampton and Crystal Palace give us a maximum nine points, with Gravenberch, Trossard and Belotti in fine goalscoring form. We’re sitting pretty in fourth position after eight games, but starman Saint-Maximin has picked up an injury and is out for seven weeks. I don’t really have much back up so any more injuries and we’re screwed. My assistant manager is giving me reports of our next opponent: Liverpool. One more win and I’ve achieved my first target set for me by the board, to reach the quarter final of a cup. But even after a solid performance from the lads we lose on penalties. Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott also scores a worldie from the halfway line, which I’ve never seen before in Football Manager. Ah well, back to the Premier League, where we’re looking like early contenders to qualify for the Champions League.

November

The honeymoon period is officially over. A draw against Watford and a tight 3-2 victory over Brighton give me hope - but towards the end of the month Belotti stops scoring. A 1-0 loss to Leeds and a 4-0 thrashing from Liverpool leave us in seventh, which still isn’t bad at this stage in the season. I’m having to play Joelinton and Almirón a lot though, something I do not want to be doing. Declan Rice, Alphonso Davies, Süle and Mbabu have been decent performers so far too.

December

We haven’t scored a goal in five games - somewhere, Mike Ashley is laughing into his massively oversized Sports Direct mug - as we lose to Arsenal and Manchester City and draw against Leicester. A tough run of fixtures perhaps, but I’d like to think we’d at least contest. In modern football, I’ve seen managers sacked for less. Maybe my gegenpress style of play is too much for the lads. I think I’ll keep the same 4-2-3-1 formation, but ease off on the tempo to try and reduce the risk of injuries. Ben Foster is out for the foreseeable which means no GoPro in goal, disaster. To add insult to injury (literally) we lose to Burnley… Burnley!

I want to give the people of Newcastle something to cheer about over the Christmas period, so I sit down for a meeting with my players in an attempt to boost morale. It looks like it works as we instantly beat Norwich and West Ham, Joelinton making me eat my words as he bags two goals. After bringing in a barrage of new players, loads of the old brigade are complaining and asking for more game time, including Callum Wilson. Alright, I’ll start you in the last game of 2021 against Chelsea. A 2-0 loss, oh how surprising.

Fans outside St James' Park celebrate their new owners. (Credit: PA Images)
Fans outside St James' Park celebrate their new owners. (Credit: PA Images)

January

January means the transfer window is back open for a month! I only have £4 million left in my budget though, so it’s unlikely I’ll be able to sign anyone of real stature. My scout has notified me that ex-Newcastle player Hatem Ben Arfa is currently a free agent, and even though he’s now 34 years old he has fairly decent stats in the game. I remember him for that incredible goal he scored against my beloved Bolton Wanderers in 2012, where he ran the length of the pitch. For that alone, he’s getting a contract and for a wage of £6k a week, chump change for an impact sub. I’ve also asked about Liverpool’s Curtis Jones as another midfield option. I don’t think I’ve been able to field my favoured 11 since the first few games of the season, so new personnel are desperately needed.

On the pitch, our poor form continues. Trossard scores a few, which is nice to see, but we’re struggling to outscore our opponents and are leaking stupid goals. A 3-0 win over Oxford in the FA Cup gets the fans off my back for a while. Two draws against Spurs in two weeks isn’t bad but something needs to change - and quick! Confirmation of the loan signing of Curtis Jones could just be the catalyst.

February

A 3-0 destruction of Leicester City means we’ve now knocked them out of both cup competitions, which is kind of funny I guess. We beat Wolves and Palace and finish the month with a draw against Brentford. In February we score six and concede none, a fantastic 28 days. Gravenberch is announced as the 11th best ‘wonderkid’ in the world, which is a boost to my managerial ego. Looking at the table, we are in 9th place with a few months to go - could a push for European football still be on?

FM Wonderkids (Credit: SEGA)
FM Wonderkids (Credit: SEGA)

March

A 1-0 loss to Watford in the FA Cup, even though we dominate the game, almost makes me quit the save. That’s two objectives failed as we haven’t qualified for the quarter-final of a cup, again. Moving on though, most of my injured players are now fully fit, meaning I now have loads of options. Joe Willock must’ve had a kick seeing Curtis Jones take his place, as he scores two against Brighton from the bench. Our fine league form continues with a 4-1 win over Southampton - it’s the first time all season that I’ve seen every single player have a smiley face icon next to their name.

In the final match of the month, Mbabu gets himself a red card as we’re 3-0 up against Watford in the first half. FA Cup revenge is well and truly on the cards until this pivotal moment, and my ultra-defensive tactics don’t work as we concede a last-minute penalty. Trossard sees red too, and the game finishes 3-3. Thanks Kevin and Leandro. (I throw a water bottle in their direction after the game.)

April

Only a handful of games left and Newcastle United are nine points adrift of a spot in the Europa League. Dreams of Champions League qualification are long gone, but if Chelsea and Aston Villa have a few poor results, we can still make it. Except we have to play Arsenal, Liverpool, City and Leeds (who are weirdly good in this game, sitting in second place). The Gunners send us home with zero points. We travel to Leeds to meet the same fate. Liverpool is a guaranteed defeat, surely? Yep, 3-0 and our xG was 0.18 - woeful. Well, I may as well write off the City game, too. Wrong! My squad pull off the game of the season with an emphatic 2-0 win. Anyone who’s played Football Manager will know just how hard it can be to beat the big teams. I’m buzzing... can we give Gravenberch the keys to the city? 

Football Manager 2022 (Credit: SEGA)
Football Manager 2022 (Credit: SEGA)

May

Three games left and we realistically need all nine points to stand a chance of getting into Europe. West Ham, Burnley and Norwich stand in our way. This is it, the moment all Newcastle fans have been waiting for, a return to the glory days. A cagey game ends in a 1-0 win against West Ham. Most of my players are getting ratings of 8 or above now, which is very promising indeed.

Burnley away, and Trossard gets sent off, again! A 2-0 loss means eighth place is almost nailed on. Burnley have done the double over us, which means Sean Dyche will eat an extra pork pie tonight. I try to fire the players up for the final game of the season against Norwich, but the campaign ends with a very uninspiring 0-0 draw. 

Roundup

There it is, an eighth place finish, six points behind Aston Villa and European football. Not a bad first season all things considered. A deep cup run would’ve made it a real success I think, but everything is set up nicely for a second season. (Part Two, if more than five people read to this point.)

Football Manager 2022 (Credit: SEGA)
Football Manager 2022 (Credit: SEGA)

Andrea Belotti finishes the season with 17 goals, making him the fourth top scorer in the Premier League. Ronaldo tops the list with 28 goals, because of course he did. Trossard finishesd with 11 and also contributes 10 assists - might have been more if not for those reds. Mbabu and Davies receive very high average ratings but don’t finish the campaign with many assists at all, something to look at for the future. I expected more from fan favourite Saint-Maximin, but he was out injured for half the season so I’m not going to be too harsh on him. Gravenberch proves to be my standout though, carrying the team in the darkest of times. At 19 years old, he could well be the main man for this save if I carry on for a few seasons.

An extra £100 million in the summer will be fun to play with too, thanks owners. Newcastle United, it’s been a pleasure.

Featured Image Credit: Sports Interactive

Topics: PC, Sega

Will McCue

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