FM15: Newcastle United – Chapter One

My first attempt at writing about Football Manager will be about my exploits with the might Newcastle United FC. For this save, I will be trying to get European football in the first season, and to obtain Champions League status within five seasons.

To do this, I need to buy young and nurture. As well as buy some big names straight away to get up the league, which for Newcastle is almost unheard of in recent years. However, with these signings, I will have an eye on the future as well.

Budgets and Transfers

Transfer allowance: £15.5m

For this first season, I need to be assured European football as this is one of my major goals. Therefore, my spending has been mainly about getting players into the first team straight away, and for that, I need to spend more than I would like.

However, I have spent wisely, and have also included some signings that can help me go forward in the future after players pass their peak, or I have to cash in to make money.

Transfers in
Newcastle United’s transfers in for my first season in charge

My first signing of the save was André Ayew. For £5.75m, he was absolute steal. My formation, which you will see soon, requires an left attacking midfielder (AML), and I only had Yoan Gouffran in that position. Ayew will be able to fill that position well, and for such a small price and wage agreement, he should add immediate impact to the team.

I had to work a little harder for my second first team signing. Simon Kjær has always been a player I try and get with Newcastle, in all versions of FM. This time was a little harder as he had no intention of joining me. I had to talk to him and assure him he could be a legend at the club. Somehow he agreed to join. £4.4m is a great price for Kjær, who can immediately join the first team and add some much needed security in defence.

My final three signings are much more obscure. I got Itumeleng Khune from the Kaizer Chiefs for £1.5m as a back-up goalkeeper to Tim Krul (Rob Elliot needed to be upgraded). Álex Grimaldo was brought in on loan to help bolster my defence, specifically as a left-back, where I only have Paul Dummett and 21-year old Massadio Haïdara.

Finally, Kristoffer Ajer was brought in for free. As a 16-year old, this midfielder has some of the best stats for his age. He has joined the U21 side, and is sure to be battling for a first team place in a couple of years and could be a superstar when I go for a Champions League position.

Kristoffer Ajer
16-year old Kristoffer Ajer’s statistics

Tactics

The primary tactic I am using in this save saw me gain great success with my Tottenham Hotspur side in a previous game. I am hoping for the same reaction with this team, and I think I can get it.

I am going for what the game calls a 4-2-4 Wide, but I look at it as a 4-2-2-2. Four in defence, but the full-backs are classed as complete wing backs and they look to overlap to get forward, a tactic that is perfect for Daryl Janmaat who loves to go forward as well as defend. One of my centre backs is a limited defender, whilst the other is a ball playing defender.

The two centre midfielders are pretty standard, as I have a ball playing midfielder and a box-to box midfielder. But, it is my wingers who will provide the most support in an attacking function in this tactic. Both are inside forwards, which means that they cut inside and shoot at every opportunity, but can also stay wide and provide excellent crosses, (hence the need for Ayew).

I have two strikers, one poacher and one advanced forward. I am thinking of playing Ayoze Perez as a poacher, but I have many attacking options and can easily swap him with someone else should the need arise.

FM15 4-2-2-2 tactic
My starting 4-2-2-2 tactic for Newcastle United

I have also set up two other tactics for when I come up against tougher opposition, and for when the inevitable injuries strike. They are a classic 4-5-1 and a 4-1-4-1.

Pre-Season and Fixtures

My pre-season went well as I picked up six wins out of seven, drawing the other game. I only let in five goals, and picked up three clean sheets. All that bodes well for the season ahead.

My opening games are quite tough. Man City as the second game, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham to play consecutively. Add to that a difficult away game to West Ham, and I am hoping for 10 points from these games, as well as progressing to round three of the Capital One Cup.

Opening games
Newcastle’s opening fixtures to the season ahead

Over Christmas I have been fairly lucky. Away to Crystal Palace and Burnley should be quite easy to navigate. Arsenal away should be hard, but if I can get a run of good performances, then I can hopefully get a further three wins from these four games.

Christmas fixtures
Newcastle’s Christmas fixtures

Finally, the run-in is quite straightforward. A crunch clash away to rivals Sunderland is tough, along with a home game to Arsenal. But I am hoping that these games will make it easy for me to get my European football place.

Closing games
Newcastle’s run-in

Looking Forward

I am ready to play my first game this season, and thus ends the first chapter of my Newcastle United career. It may be a while before the next due to holidays, but I hope to keep you updated as much as I can.

You can always follow me on Twitter, where I will be tweeting updates – @jormesports

Here is my team to face my first competitive game against Burnley.

Premier League v Burnley
Opening weekend squad v Burnley
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