After a bit of free time recently, I thought it’d be a good time to get back into my beloved FM. I wanted a challenge. No team in the Premier League, but an emerging one in the Championship. Not a favourite, but with reasonable budget and ambition. Mark Warburton has worked wonders with Brentford this year and has secured their spot in the Championship play-offs with a final day win. A sizeable budget with a decent enough blend of experience and youth, emulating the real-life Brentford achievements would be more than acceptable for my first season with this team.
With a budget of around £1.4m to spend I knew my hands weren’t tied financially, but I’d have to be astute in the transfer market. The Brentford squad I inherited was relatively strong, Harlee Dean, Jota and Alex Pritchard all, in my opinion, Premier League standard players with a lot of potential. Andre Gray, Marcos Tebar and Lewis Macleod too, deemed good first-team players that would form the spine of my team this season. So what was needed? I signaled out four key positions that I wanted to strengthen – full back (right or left), centre-midfield, attacking midfield (wingers) and up top. Any other players of quality who became available would also be considered regardless of position.
First up, highly-rated Iraqi winger, Humam Tariq. I’d heard about him from a friend, and after investigating myself, it was clear to see exactly why he was so laudatory of the 18 year-old. I knew it’d be difficult to get a work-permit for him, but decided to go ahead and offer £225k for his services. His club accepted and after agreeing personal terms, Tariq became my first signing – a real coup!
Not part of my initial plans, but I’d noticed that Blackburn’s, Grant Hanley, had become available to loan (with a monthly fee). Like Tariq, he is still relatively young (22) and has some great physical and mental stats for his position. So, Hanley became my second signing, brought in as a partner for Harlee Dean in the heart of my defence.
Next, another loan deal with a fee, as I went back to a player I’d had on my previous save with Bournemouth, Luke Garbutt. Interest in the left-back was high, but I managed to convince both his club, Everton, and the player himself, that Griffin Park was the best destination for his development.
As I knew that Tariq wouldn’t play in his first season with us due to his work permit not being granted, it was important that I secure the services of another wide player. Highly rated, Adama Traore, had broken into the Barcelona senior team the previous season and made one appearance. With the likes of Messi, Neymar, Suarez and Pedro ahead of him in the pecking order however, I contacted Barcelona with a proposed season-long loan deal, which they accepted. Quick, strong and with tremendous dribbling ability, this was an exciting signing for the team and one which I thought would make the difference over the course of the season.
My final recruit for the season would come from a trusted source. As a Chelsea fan and manager on nearly every single one of the Football Manager series, I knew the squad well and had a fairly good understanding of who I’d be able to poach on loan for the season. Nathan Ake has been on the fringes of the Chelsea team for almost three seasons now. His stats aren’t the greatest, but his versatility would come in handy in a squad as stretched as mine; Chelsea also agreed to cover his wages for the season, so with my final allocation of wage budget, Ake became my fifth and final signing of the season.
So there it was, my team for the season was in place. A right-back and striker was still needed, but there was adequate cover for those positions until the next transfer window in January. Staffing too probably needed an overhaul, but that was to wait until summer when our league status would be confirmed.
Stay tuned for part two when I’ll be sharing results from my first ten games of the season!