Parma - Rebuilding an Empire - Season 1
So I'd like to start with an apology. The idea when I started this save was to provide regular updates, in real time. Between having a full time job, 2 football teams to play for and a girlfriend to keep happy, I haven't been able to put as much time into writing as I would have liked. I have however become really engrossed in this save that seasons 1 and 2 have already passed and season 3 is now well underway. This post will therefore be a full season 1 review and I'll try to provide more detailed and regular updates from season 3 onwards!
Where to begin when starting the save? My first port of call was to check out my squad and the board's expectations for the season ahead. I was pleasantly surprised here. My squad, although old, was littered with quality players for this level, and I think the media prediction of 2nd is more than attainable and I will be aiming for promotion as champions.
The board set my minimum expectation as making the playoffs, which in a league where 50% of the league qualifies should be easy. I have also given myself a couple of philosophies that I will have to maintain throughout my career. On every single one of my saves I ask my board to focus on youth, both bringing youth players through and buying them. The reason for this is because I tend to find the board a lot more willing to improve facilities and your youth recruitment network which can only be a good thing going deeper into this save.
As I mentioned in my scouting article, it is one of the first things on my 'To Do' list. My current set up, while decent for this level, could easily be improved and I will set about doing that straight away.
Now for one of my favourite parts of Football Manager, transfers. With a reasonably healthy budget (for this level) of £800k I immediately set about scouting around Central Europe looking to bring a youthful edge to my ageing team. Bringing in Adrià Vilanova for £80k alongside a few free transfers and loans to bulk up the squad, I'm happy to go into the season with what I have. The base squad at Parma is more than good enough to go up at the first time of asking.
Tactics-wise I have settled on a slightly modified version of the 4-2-3-1 Wide that brought me a modicum of success in my Newcastle save while playing the Beta. I will tweak this as time goes on if needed but it is the basis of a good tactic, with both high possession and clear cut chance statistics.
With all that out of the way, let's get into the real business of FM, the games. My preseason was mixed, a poor result against a superior Chievo side, followed by a few dominant draws and a good win against poorer opposition. We also managed to progress in the Serie C cup, so all in all, I was happy.
Onto the season itself and the first half of the season was a mixed bag. The big problem was a lack of goals, we were dominating possession and having the majority of shots in most games but weren't winning as many as we would have liked. The game against Fano being a prime example.
So after 19 games, where do we stand?
While 7th is not where we want to be, the league table is so tight that a couple of favourable results and we'll be back on top. I was confident that now my team had more or less become fluid in the tactics that I wanted them to play, we would be able to turn some of those frustrating draws from the first half of the season into much needed wins.
As you can see from the image below, the second half of the season was going well. As I'd hoped, once we had learnt the tactic to a fluid level we started seeing the results we wanted and with 4 games to go here is where we stood:
There we have it then. 4 games to seal promotion as champions. 3 of those being home games, I would be disappointed if we threw it away now. As an aside I was also informed that the league points record stood at 75 points, although not a priority this would be a nice target for us.
2 wins later and we were on the brink. 4 points clear with 2 games to go and it was going to take a miracle for Reggiana to overturn the deficit now.
Without even playing, a home defeat for Reggiana to Gubbio handed us the title and we'll be playing in Serie B next season. There is a lot of work to do to the squad and I'm still not 100% happy with my tactics as I feel there was more in this team than they showed and my winning margin at the top could have been even more substantial. Anyway, we go again.