Hello, and thanks for joining me as I tell you about the second season of my manager career mode on FIFA 20. I hope everyone is keeping well in these difficult times. I sadly found myself furloughed last week, which has been stressful to a degree but has also given me a tad bit more free time, so peaks and troughs, eh? Anyway, I’ve dedicated some of that free time to continuing my manger career mode. For those who didn’t read last week’s article (for shame, SHAME, I say!), I decided to take the reins at a less than fancied club in what is seen to be a non-glamourous league, with the goal of doing well enough that I would get offered jobs in bigger leagues as consequence.
Östersunds FK’s board decided to keep me on for another season after I won an improbable league and cup double the previous season without signing a single player and only using the existing squad, along with players promoted from the youth set up. My domestic targets for the second season were for me to finish in a “high” placing in the Allsvenskan whilst progressing at least as far as the Quarter Finals of the Svenska Cupen. As I had won the League the previous season, I had earned the right to compete in the UEFA Champions League, with the board expecting me to make the group stages.
Not surprisingly, the Champions League became my main focus, especially as I once again failed to sign anyone due to having a paltry transfer kitty of £3,000,000 and a wage budget of just £8,000. I did attempt to sign promising young player Luca Connell from Celtic, and they accepted a bid of £900,000 to sell him to me, but sadly, he was already making £6,000 a week over at Celtic, and there was no way I could offer him similar at that current juncture, so talks broke down as a result. To qualify for the UCL, I would have to win two qualifying ties, both over two legs. Those two sides ended up being Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, neither of which were going to be a walk in the park.
I ended up winning 1-0 at home in the first leg against Zagreb before winning the away leg 1-2 in Croatia to set up a tie with the Greek Champions. Zagreb were difficult to break down, but they never really caused me much of a threat up top, and their consolation goal in the second leg came long after I’d sowed the tie up. Olympiacos were also tough to get the better of in the first leg, with the game ending 1-1 in Sweden, but they absolutely collapsed in the second leg, and I ended up defeating them 1-3 to advance with an aggregate score of 4-2. Thus, I had qualified for the Champions League proper and eagerly awaited to see who I would be drawn against. The resulting draw hit me right in the bread basket.
I got possibly one of the worst draws a side at my level could get, with Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund being revealed as my opposition. Getting drawn against a former finalist and two former winners certainly caused me to sit up with a jolt. It became very clear to me that our Champions League campaign wouldn’t be about qualification to the knockout stage but rather a battle to avoid getting humiliated on the continental stage. Spurs made the gap between Östersunds and the top sides in Europe pretty clear by pummelling me in the first group game. I didn’t have a single shot on target and spent pretty much the entirety of the game stuck in my half with all men to the pumps.
However, despite having many chances to finish me off, Spurs weren’t able to pull the trigger, leaving me with an incredibly lucky 0-0 draw. Up next was Milan at the San Siro, which I was dreading seeing as I felt getting results at home would be my only chance. However, to my surprise I ended up not only winning the game but winning it by a 0-3 score line, of all things. For whatever reason, Milan just weren’t up to it, and I was able to take an unexpected 4 points with me when I went to play Dortmund away.
Dortmund quickly scored, and I started getting that sinking feeling, but amazingly they seemed to take their foot off the pedal after scoring, and I ended up not only winning but scoring another 3 goals away from home to somehow win the game 1-3. With other results going my way, a win over Dortmund in Sweden would see me guaranteed to qualify. Dortmund were far better in the second match and had plenty of chances to score, but I ended up squeezing in a 1-0 win to see myself into the last 16 whilst also netting myself a windfall of £27,000,000, thus, pleasing the board greatly. I ended up resting the squad for the next two games so I could start getting some momentum in the league, and both of those matches ended 0-0, which I was perfectly happy with given the circumstances.
My Round of 16 opponent was to be Bayer Leverkusen, and I immediately made a hash of the first leg by going down to ten men in the opening moments. Ironically, I scored almost straight after the sending off, but Leverkusen quickly drew level and then exploited the fact they had the extra man by scoring two more in the second half to win the game 3-1 and push me close to elimination. The second leg was a daunting prospect, but I was smart enough this time to keep all eleven players on the pitch, and Leverkusen bottled the match in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen a CPU-controlled team do on one of these games as I battered them from pillar to post and ended up winning 3-0 to send Östersunds through 4-3 on aggregate.
I didn’t have long to celebrate my incredible victory though as I discovered in horror that my Quarter Final opponents were to be a little club called Manchester City. Oh yes, you read that right. The almost immeasurable gulf between City and myself became pretty clear when they cleanly and easily dissected me in my own gaff by a score of 0-3. I was never even in the contest, and it looked like my European journey was finally over. Going into the second leg, I decided to do away with the 4-5-1 formation I was using in Europe and stuck with the 4-3-3 I was using in the league.
I knew I was out, so I played without pressure and just decided to have a go. Oh, how I wish I’d had that attitude in the first leg when I honestly had been cowed by just how good City were. I had played with fear in that first leg, but in the second leg, I played with an optimism verging on fatalism, and it served me well. At half-time I was winning the game 0-2 after two goals in the first 25 minutes. City were still obviously better than me, but their defence had gone to sleep on a couple of occasions, and I had pounced.
Thus followed an agonising second half where I spent large chunks of it penned in looking for any chance I had to break through City’s defensive line again. In the dying moments of normal time, I managed to break forward and ended up in a one-on-one situation with the City keeper. I pressed the shoot button and did a little prayer, only to see Ederson make a fantastic save to send the ball out for a corner. I was crestfallen. I’m terrible at corner kicks in FIFA 20 and hardly ever score from them. Indeed, the corner went nowhere and was easily cleared. However, when I put in another cross, the clearance was poor and fell to the feet of substitute Jerrell Sellars, who wellied the ball past Ederson to make the game 0-3!
I even had another chance in the dying seconds, but Sellars this time sent it agonisingly wide, meaning we had to go to extra time. I had a couple of chances in extra time too but didn’t take them, thus, causing the game to go down to penalties. Despite managing to save one of the City penalties, Ederson continued his good night by saving two of mine, and the Östersunds FK European journey was over. Beaten, but with my pride intact, I was left to ponder what might have been.
The domestic season by comparison was pretty straightforward. There were only two teams in the Title hunt, both myself and IFK Norrköping, and there ended up being just six points between us when all was said and done. IFK Norrköping won a hugely impressive 25 games during the season, but what let them down was they lost 4, whilst I was lucky enough not to lose any. Thus, I sowed the Title up with two games to go, and that was with using my squad a lot during the actual season itself. This was mostly due to the promising youth players from both the previous and current seasons. Anton Andersson and Emile Perrsson continued to shine, whilst Mikael Sorenson and Thor Evenson made their debuts and performed well at centre forward and left back, respectively.
I decided to go back in for Luca Connell once January came around, although he had developed a bit more and, as a result, I had to pay Celtic £1,400,000 to bring him in. Thankfully, the money from making it further in the Champions League allowed me to offer Connell £6,000 a week, and he accepted the offer even though Celtic had recently given him a pay raise because I was willing to offer him a bigger role than they were. He’s a cracking player who can play both centre midfield and left back, meaning he offers me some much needed depth. I plugged him straight in, and he immediately hit the ground running.
IFK Norrköping were not only my main rivals in the league, but they were also my Svenska Cupen Final opponents as well. Unfortunately for them, they never really turned up in the Final itself, and I was already 3-0 up at half-time, courtesy of a Charlie Colkett hat-trick. Norrköping pulled one back in the second half, but the game was long over by that stage, and I was able to see things out to win an improbable Double-Double. Thus, the Östersunds FK Invincibles were born!
So, after an amazing domestic haul and a strong performance in Europe, how many clubs were banging on my door trying to hire me? Zero. Yes, that’s right, no one offered me a job, and I decided not to go fishing for one myself; thus, the season ended with me signing on for another year at Östersunds. I must admit that I’m a little bit surprised at that because you’d think someone would show an interest based on that return, but sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Thus, I will stay at Östersunds for a third season, although I think for the first time I might have a browse of available jobs as I feel like I’ve outgrown the Allsvenskan at this stage, in all honesty, and I’m starting to hunger for a new challenge. I’ll update you all on how things are going next week. I’ve decided to have a go at streaming games on Twitch, so if you keep a look out over the next week, you might be able to see how my FIFA career is going in person. Just search I_Like_Garden_Peas if you’re a regular Twitch frequenter to pick my channel up.
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave