Underdog Champion

by ZaZ, Jan 7, 2023

Hi! Time to run my public career to share experience with other users. All decisions will be explained, and I'm keen to hear comments and suggestions about those decisions.

I will play Bournemouth, weakest side from Premier League, and my goal is to win Champions League within three seasons. I also expect to win Premier League in the second season, and qualify to Champions League in the second season.

The plan is to use scout meetings for transfers. I will tell what I want, then make choices based on their suggestions. No individual scouting or setting up custom assignments for main team. Trust the staff!

I will also control and hire for youth teams, and my goal is to have third reserve of each position from the youth team by the second season. That will require me have scouts on assignment for youth players (under 18). That doesn't conflict with previous rule (not using scouts), because players under 18 are very unlikely to contribute much to winning UCL within three years. I also want to have top youth setup within three years. Note that this doesn't help with the main goal, it's more of a fun goal because I think every team should have strong youth settings.

Finally, I will use Water tactic because it's my highest rated, but I might use another tactic on the youth teams for testing purposes (nice to see the movements in game).

Let's do this!

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First important decision in the game comes right before you start playing, picking up leagues and the team you want to play. I picked Bournemouth because it is the weakest side of Premier League, and I decided that by checking the lowest squad value on "Create a Club". I chose to have only English league, and only Premier Division available, since this is a quick run of three seasons.

The second division is your managerial style, or picking up your attributes. I picked the attributes below.


I chose one category of training (technical attacking) and maximizing rate for it. I also maximized working with youngsters because I will be running the youth teams. All other coaching attributes are useless since I will only be training one category (you can also train two or more, I just prefer to have more specialized training). Keep in mind that Goalkeeper Coaches and Fitness Coaches are shared between main team, U21 and U18, so I prefer to hire a good one for that position instead of doing myself.

Now, comes the list of things to do as soon as you start a new career, as described in the link below.
https://fm-arena.com/thread/2643-top-10-to-do-list-when-starting-a-new-save/

Staff responsibilities: I want to do all talks related to transfers and contracts, and manage everything about the three categories (Main, U21 and U18). I will delegate all tasks related to media and scouting to the staff. I will also take control of picking friendly matches, but delegate playing those matches.

Schedule, Arrange Friendly: I cancel all my friendlies, then set up one new friendly per week for both main and youth teams.

Training, Rest: Go to Training > Rest, then set "No pitch or gym work" for anyone below excellent condition. That will allow you to have a heavier training schedule, while avoiding most injuries of the season, which are caused by training with low condition. Repeat to the youth categories, but set double intensity on excellent condition, since the focus there is growth, and young players usually suffer less injuries.


Training, Calendar: I set up my training schedule for the whole season (including pre-season), for both main and youth teams. Unfortunately, you have to copy and paste it everywhere. The schedule is in the picture below, and attached to this message for download.


Training, Coaches: Set your coaches to maximize stars in all categories, for both main and youth teams. Notice that some coaches can be used in all three teams, like GK Coach, Fitness Coach, U21 Manager and yourself. Make sure that those shared staff are very good at coaching to optimize your resources.

Tactic: I will be using Water 5.0 and the light version in this run for main team. U21 will use Fire, and U18 will use Earth, so I can watch the tactics playing.


Staff, Search: Find the best coaches available, scouts, physios, and set them properly on training when they arrive. Priorities should be for two good fitness coaches, since physical attributes are the most important. Also, hire a good U21 manager, since he can be used to train in all teams.

To search for staff, simply search for the role and key attributes, and only realistic results will show by default. Adjust the attributes to show between 5-10 options, then pick the one you like the most (remember you can offer contract to all of them, then stall until the one you want decides if he will join or not, and cancel the rest). For coaches used for multiple teams (including youth), remember to include a good level of "Working with Youngsters".


To hire staff for the youth teams (especially a manager, since he can be used to train main team), I first unmark the option to include staff for main team (I want realistic people for youth only), and put filters for either technical or tactical training (either is fine, as long as it has good working with youngsters and either attacking, defending or mental). Keep in mind that I couldn't care less for the management ability of youth team managers, only about their coaching abilities, since I will be controlling the matches anyway.


I offered contract to the people below. I always hire Dennis Bergkamp since I really loved his football.





Next part is about picking up squad, selecting who should go and who should stay, as well as transfers, contracts and so on, so I will do in a separate post.

ZaZ - Training.fmf
Downloaded : 234 times
Uploaded : Jan 7, 2023
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Can't wait to see how it goes! Also, do you think it's possible for a club like Bournemouth, with transfers, to win the league in the first season?

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To evaluate my team and decide who stays and who goes, I will check position by position which players are good, which are bad, which have potential and which don't. Then I can use that info to sell players, send youngsters back to youth teams, and to identify where I need transfers.

There isn't much magic for this selection of players. I mainly check for key attributes, like pace, acceleration, jumping reach for defenders, reflexes for goalkeepers, and so on. I also check players age, because they grow very fast up to 18, slightly fast until 21, slow until 28, and then it stops growing until decaying. That means players with high attributes at young ages (especially under 18) have high chance to become stars in the future, so they should get special attention. If two players have similar attributes, then the youngest one is most likely better. Also, remember to check coaching reports to get hints about their personality, avoiding anyone that is not professional.

In the end, my initial team looks like below, with two players per position. There is another player per position in the U21 team that can be used as backup.


From the initial team, there are two players in long term injury, and only one to be sold off (29 yo striker with 11 accel and 12 pace, which means he is not suited to the role). Checking my finances, I have only 1 million euros for transfers, and barely 2 millions left for salary, meaning I cannot change much in my team this season. I could sell players to make cash, but I'm pretty satisfied with my current squad. Since I have only one fast defender, this will be my priority for transfer before the season.


I also checked my board expectations to see if they have some policy for hiring, but they have none. They want me to play possession based football, but that is definitely not happening since I couldn't make a single tactic with high possession to work.


Unsurprisingly, the board did not accept my proposal to add a goal to qualify to UCL next year. They think it is unreasonable, so I have to prove them wrong.

About friendly matches, I always pick very easy matches, because the main goal is to improve morale and fitness. About individual training, I'm training wingbacks and inside forwards in the opposite side to increase my options, and I'm also training all players under 28 years old on Quickness (GK on Reflexes).


Daz said: Can't wait to see how it goes! Also, do you think it's possible for a club like Bournemouth, with transfers, to win the league in the first season?

It is possible, but highly unlikely. Considering I will do this first season with only one transfer (scouts searching for a central defender), I will be happy if I get a spot at Europa League.

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@ZaZ I have a lot of injuries with training and rest in this fm, did you notice this?

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Sane said: @ZaZ I have a lot of injuries with training and rest in this fm, did you notice this?

By the end of season, does your medical team say you had more or less injuries than average? They always give a report, and usually they tell me I got like 40-60% less than expected.

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Played the first 10 matches of the season, and things went pretty well. I changed Blue 5.0 so both wingbacks and inside forwards are at default width, and removed shorter passing, because results at testing table were poor.

One of the things I do every single week is sort players by training rate and praise the development of each player with 8.05+. You can see the difference in morale in the pictures below (before x after). It might not look like much, but it is the easiest way to keep morale high during the season.


I got two good suggestions of defenders to hire by scout team, with pictures below. I offered contract to both for loan (not enough money for transfer), and Mason Holgate accepted to play on my team this season (the other accepted another offer). That was the only transfer for the season, and he is on the same level as the other three defenders (but I prefer two others for main team). The player he will substitute is James Hill, with a picture also below.



I have separated a couple of notable matches to comment.
- Against Crystal Palace, we started conceding at 4 and getting a player sent off at 31, but we managed to turn around in the second half with one less player.
- Against Newcastle away, we were winning until 90 minutes, then they scored 3 in a row, which was very frustrating.
- We managed to defeat Liverpool away!
- We also smashed Manchester United in our home, which felt very good.



In the end, we lost Carabao Cup in the first match, but things are going very well on the league. As you can see, we are together with the top pack, and there is a chance we might score UCL in the first season (I don't believe in title, though). If anyone wants to see more details about players or anything else, the save is in this link.


P.S.: Another important thing I do but forgot to say is to create some friendlies with U21 in the day right after matches (in weeks with only one match). That allows me to use all players that didn't play and need match fitness on that friendly, giving enough time for them to recover before next match.

Let me know your thoughts, questions or suggestions!

ZaZ - Water 5.1.fmf
Downloaded : 139 times
Uploaded : Jan 8, 2023
ZaZ - Water 5.1 Light.fmf
Downloaded : 129 times
Uploaded : Jan 8, 2023
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@ZaZ Hey, are you using the solid version similar to fm 22? For example, when you win during the match by 2+ goals.

What is the best way to keep the score or play against the strongest favorites in this fm?

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Do you use any opposition instructions?
Just to make sure I got it right - no Genie Scout allowed, yup?
Good luck, curious to see if you can make it.


Daz said: Can't wait to see how it goes! Also, do you think it's possible for a club like Bournemouth, with transfers, to win the league in the first season?

I was wondering the same thing. The logical conclusion I came up with is that the only way to achieve such thing is by adapting your tactic permanently taking in consideration the players you have available and the opposition . I really can’t see a plug&play tactic make Bournemouth win the title in the first season, although I’d love to because I’m not a great tactician.

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Sane said: @ZaZ Hey, are you using the solid version similar to fm 22? For example, when you win during the match by 2+ goals.

What is the best way to keep the score or play against the strongest favorites in this fm?


Other than changing tactic completely, I didn't find many ways to concede less yet. I know you can change IF to support duty, and volantes to DM on support, but I didn't do experiments on that yet.

kvasir said: Do you use any opposition instructions?
Just to make sure I got it right - no Genie Scout allowed, yup?
Good luck, curious to see if you can make it.




I was wondering the same thing. The logical conclusion I came up with is that the only way to achieve such thing is by adapting your tactic permanently taking in consideration the players you have available and the opposition . I really can’t see a plug&play tactic make Bournemouth win the title in the first season, although I’d love to because I’m not a great tactician.


I don't use opposition instructions, and leaving those to the Ass usually makes tactic worse somehow. I know if you understand what you are doing, then you can improve the tactic, but I don't have a set of suggestions that always work.

About Genie Scout, it's not like it is forbidden, but it's kind of pointless since I set a rule to only make transfers through the new scout focus system. They usually bring a small list of players, so it's not hard to check them and filter manually. I mean, in this first season, I didn't even have money to buy players, and the ones I tried to sell didn't get any offer. (P.S.: I won't use Genie Scout.)

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Holding onto leads and keeping clean sheets as an unerdog seems so hard this year. Your result away to Newcastle is the kind of thing im talking about. I went 3-1 up at Anfield and lost 8-4 LOL. All my defenders got 6.2+ hahaha, except lb who got a 5.9. None of them scored. I dont understand any of that.

Anyway enjoying your thread and good luck with the rest of the season.

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keithb said: Holding onto leads and keeping clean sheets as an unerdog seems so hard this year. Your result away to Newcastle is the kind of thing im talking about. I went 3-1 up at Anfield and lost 8-4 LOL. All my defenders got 6.2+ hahaha, except lb who got a 5.9. None of them scored. I dont understand any of that.

Anyway enjoying your thread and good luck with the rest of the season.


Thanks! We have to remember we are actually underdogs, which means the other teams are usually stronger. That means they often start losing because they are nervous, but after they start scoring, they gain a boost of morale that makes them have higher chance to score again, especially since they have better players.

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ZaZ said: Thanks! We have to remember we are actually underdogs, which means the other teams are usually stronger. That means they often start losing because they are nervous, but after they start scoring, they gain a boost of morale that makes them have higher chance to score again, especially since they have better players.

I get that. I just feel the way they have tried to make the game harder, well its how it appears to me, is with stuff like this.

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keithb said: I get that. I just feel the way they have tried to make the game harder, well its how it appears to me, is with stuff like this.

For me, the biggest problem of the game right now is the number of interceptions. It seems like opponents get a boost of speed when they are running to intercept the ball, and the ball is also attracted to their feet when they stretch, allowing them to not only block the pass, but also gain possession. I think it's the thing they will fix on next patch, allowing other tactics to also play through the middle.

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I don't like that the blocks from opposition defenders always bob straight up in the air to their goalkeeper

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Ten more matches gone, and things have been a rollercoaster. First I got several victories in a row, including against teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City. Then I entered a bad spell with five matches without a victory. Usually those spells last around five games, so I hope my team recovers very soon.


A few notable matches are below.
- Victory against Chelsea at home with only 32% of possession. I think goals are way more important than possession, but I know some people disagree.
- Victory against Leicester at their home. I picked this one because if you win bigger sides by two or more goals, you need to be sure to tell your team to not get overconfident.
- Victory against Arsenal at their home.
- A draw against Aston Vila, in which we were winning until 94 minutes, then my goalkeeper passed the ball to their attacker when there was no danger.
- Epic victory against Manchester City at our home. I will comment about this match below.




In this match against City, they were winning at half time. Some people like to ask me what to do in this kind of situation, so I picked this match to explain what I usually do and took some screenshots.

The first thing to do is to motivate your players with team talk. Usually, I like to let the players know how disappointed I am, so they understand they need to put more effort in the second half.


Second thing to do is to make the right subs. In this case, I removed the player with yellow card and nervous, as well as the lowest rates of the match. For their places, I picked the two motivated players with perfect morale, and the option that was not very happy with his playing time (have to think about the rest of the season). After that, I told them individually that I have faith on them.


Finally, I used shouts whenever available to give that last push. My rules are simple:
- Encourage if not winning (drawing or losing).
- No pressure if winning on the edge against stronger team.
- Praise if winning for more than 10 minutes.
- Berate if losing by large margin (two or more) for more than 10 minutes.


Those steps don't guarantee that you will comeback, but it make your team play better than during first half, which increases your chances of winning. Remember to tell they did a good job if they manage to comeback!


Other interesting things that happened during those matches were a proposal for a friendly tournament, paying me 110k euros, which I promptly accepted. It doesn't matter if your players are doing well or not, you can always play with youth team if needed. I also like to add friendly matches for the U21 one day after matches from main team, so I can give match fitness to players that didn't participate in the match day.


Since my form was good and I got some money, I decided to upgrade training facilities and youth facilities. That doesn't contribute to the goal of winning the UCL in three years, but I like the idea of leaving the club in a better situation than I received, because success is not guaranteed.


I guess that's it for now. Let me know your thoughts and suggestions! I will probably finish this first season next weekend. For anyone interested in checking players or teams on this run, here is the save file.

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Seems like you're doing great. Excited about the rest.

Do you ever change the team mentality late in the game? For example: you were leading City by 2 goals in minute 80 - in this situation could it be beneficial to change your team's mentality from "balanced" to "very defensive"? In theory, they should try less risky balls, translating in less passes being intercepted and thus less chances for the opposition.

I'm yet to play FM 23, but I'm doing this in FM 22 with your ZaZ - Green. If I'm up by 1 goal in minute 85, I just go Very Defensive (from Positive) and set time wasting to the maximum (from none).

Wonder what you think.

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kvasir said: Seems like you're doing great. Excited about the rest.

Do you ever change the team mentality late in the game? For example: you were leading City by 2 goals in minute 80 - in this situation could it be beneficial to change your team's mentality from "balanced" to "very defensive"? In theory, they should try less risky balls, translating in less passes being intercepted and thus less chances for the opposition.

I'm yet to play FM 23, but I'm doing this in FM 22 with your ZaZ - Green. If I'm up by 1 goal in minute 85, I just go Very Defensive (from Positive) and set time wasting to the maximum (from none).

Wonder what you think.


No, I don't change mentality. I tried already other mentalities, but they seem to concede more (or at least as much) than balanced. Instead, when I have a good lead, I switch to Light Water. In some matches, I also switch the sides of wingbacks and inside forwards to give them match experience, because I like them to be good at both sides for versatility (in fact, all my wingbacks and inside forwards are training for the opposite side, and not the side they play in).

About Green very defensive, I'm not sure if it brings much benefit, since I didn't test it. The tactic was already solid enough in the back to me.

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Hey zaz, great work and good luck. are water 4.2 and water 5.1 are the same tactics?

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Good thread, I'm looking forward to your result. :)

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tzahy said: Hey zaz, great work and good luck. are water 4.2 and water 5.1 are the same tactics?

Almost the same, except that IF is not set to wide.

Milakus said: Good thread, I'm looking forward to your result. :)

Thanks! Nice to have you here. I wish there were more people sharing their runs here in FM-Arena as well.

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ZaZ said: Almost the same, except that IF is not set to wide.



Thanks! Nice to have you here. I wish there were more people sharing their runs here in FM-Arena as well.



Im doing a great save with SpVgg Bayreuth starting in Bundesliga3 and its been my best save in a long, long time. I do use downloaded tactics and fmscout though. I dont mind the tactics so much but I should try to switch over to not using fm scout. Back-to-back promotions and mid table in first Bundesliga 1 season. Get hammered in some games, but the late winners and comebacks are so enjoyable. RNG seems to have leveled out too, now im a better/higher rep side.

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keithb said: Im doing a great save with SpVgg Bayreuth starting in Bundesliga3 and its been my best save in a long, long time. I do use downloaded tactics and fmscout though. I dont mind the tactics so much but I should try to switch over to not using fm scout. Back-to-back promotions and mid table in first Bundesliga 1 season. Get hammered in some games, but the late winners and comebacks are so enjoyable. RNG seems to have leveled out too, now im a better/higher rep side.

Glad to hear that! I hope you lift the trophy next year.

I don't see much problem on people using FM Scout, I just think it changes how you experience the game. When you use the tool, it becomes more focused in the long run, since you hire players thinking about their potential. When you don't use it, then it becomes more short run, thinking about their current attributes, and you get more attached to players. Both are valid ways of playing, and some people prefer one style more than the other.

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Played ten more matches into the league. Results were below expectations, but my chances to qualify to UCL are still alive. The only match we excelled was against Leicester, when we didn't let them shoot a single time during first half.



I have decided to talk a bit about signing contracts to get the cheapest impact on wage budget. Here is an example of renewing contract with my goalkeeper, but the same logic can be used as well for transfers. The initial demands for the player are presented below. As you can see in the bottom left, it has an impact of 6.39M per year in my budget, as well as 2.31M in fees to player and agent (300k impact to transfer budget).


My first step is always to strip all bonuses, clauses and fees, then add a 5% sell on fee clause to the player (this helps reducing their demands). After that, I offer some acceptable value so he doesn't backoff immediately from negotiation. This value is often around 10% more than his initial demands, which would be around 5.7M. Below are my offer, and their counter-offer.


Next, is all about keep removing the fees and offering a value close to what they would accept. Below is the next round of offer and counter-offer, and the final value they accepted.



After they accept, you can change the offer and try to increase contract length, and if they would accept without an increase in wage, they will have no problem with that. If they complain about the change in contract, then that means they would want higher wage for a different duration in contract, so it's better to just accept the duration he wanted.

Following those steps, I reduced the wage cost of the player in around 10%, and avoided reducing transfer budget by 300k, which could be converted to wage budget (5% of what the player asked for wages). If you do that to every player you hire or renew, you will have around 15% more wage budget to invest in players (and wage budget can be converted into transfer budget, to hire more players). Benefit is even bigger compared to leaving contracts to Director of Football, since even the best will always overpay.

For other interesting details that happened in the run, I managed to get rid of two deadwood that were eating wages without playing, and there was also a board change, with new expectations. Up to know, I only made one transfer in, by loan, because I didn't have money, and because I am satisfied with the current squad. If I was a bit smarter, I would also hire a few more players by loan.


Hopefully, I can finish the season today, and qualify to UCL. For anyone interested in checking the players or other details, here is the save file.

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This has been really good. Gave me the motivation to play especially you doing it with the team I played/support. Im doing similar to you but with Burnley (with your training and tactics). Won the champ on 111 point and now sitting 3rd joint on points after 10 games in the prem!

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As a note, I corrected the impact of loyalty and agent fees to the transfer budget. The value is not paid immediately, so it was 300k instead of 2.3m. Sorry for the amateurish error.

I'm also currently testing Water 5.4 with shorter passing and trying to get wingbacks a bit closer to the goal.

66connor66 said: This has been really good. Gave me the motivation to play especially you doing it with the team I played/support. Im doing similar to you but with Burnley (with your training and tactics). Won the champ on 111 point and now sitting 3rd joint on points after 10 games in the prem!

Glad to know! I hope you have lots of fun there!

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Thanks! 1 question. I know you said you are not focusing on youth in this save. But do you generally like to loan players out or just develop in u21/18s?

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66connor66 said: Thanks! 1 question. I know you said you are not focusing on youth in this save. But do you generally like to loan players out or just develop in u21/18s?

For development, the best is to loan them to an inactive league. That apparently makes them count as used  for all matches, which increases attribute growth.

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ZaZ said: For development, the best is to loan them to an inactive league. That apparently makes them count as used  for all matches, which increases attribute growth.


How good is Max

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Season 1 is done. We finished 4th and got a spot in UCL, which is obviously a good result. It wasn't a very good run, with a very bad spell without victories during the middle of the season, but still ended up 4 points above tests from FM-Arena. Notable results were a big victory away against Chelsea, and a humiliating defeat against Crystal Palace at home in the last match (player sent off at 3 min).



For this season, I only got one transfer, which was a reserve defender that was barely used. Now I got over 60 Mi for transfers and wages, so I will be checking thoroughly the suggestions from scouts, and pick a focus for the positions I want to improve for UCL. Since I have two years to win UCL, my goal is to improve at least half of my team on a standard that can also be useful for next season. That means my goal is to hire five players, one for each position (defender, wingback, winger, defensive midfielder and striker), and leave the other five positions to hire next season. This is possible because I train my wingers and wingbacks to be good in both sides, so it doesn't matter what side I hire them to play.

As usual, here is the save file in case anyone wants to check the state of Bournemouth.

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