Welcome to a trip down memory lane! After reminiscing with some of my friends from Ronnie Dog Media about my first save with real achievements in FM14 with Oxford United, I decided to re-download and fire up the game for a bit, and I found an old cloud back-up of that particular save! As something a little different to run alongside my FC Dallas save, I decided to get back to managing Leicester in 2020 and see if I could use what I know now to get over the last couple of humps I felt in management and go for Premier League glory!
Since we’re taking such a big jump into the future from a game that’s 4-years-old already (already?!?!) I’ve decided I’m going to do a series of year-by-year updates covering my time in charge of the different clubs and national teams I’ve managed between 2013 and 2020.
In this update, we’re going to cover the first team I took charge of on a Football Manager game, Oxford United. I’m not going to lie, I probably restarted this save numerous times after getting sacked because I didn’t know anything about soccer as I learned how this game worked. I just wanted to play a different kind of sports game where I was in charge instead of controlling players!
The 2013/14 season was one that I still look quite fondly on years later. In my first season in charge of the team, I led Oxford United to my first piece of silverware when I fought myself to a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory against Walsall that ended 2-0 in extra time. I only wish I could access the match records and relive the moment, but with me being 7 years into the future, I can only look at the scores years later!
As you can see from the league table, after hundreds of hours of failures and clean starts, I found what clicked for me in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and I took the league title by a single point against runner-up Hartlepool. Oxford United ended the season with 24 wins, 13 draws, and 9 losses after 46 matches and they had a +30 goal difference. We were one of the worst teams for concessions by the look of the table, but we made up for it in the end with James Constable’s goalscoring prowess!
This season saw us go up, and Plymouth Argyle and AFC Wimbledon dropped out of the Football League.
This was our best eleven for the 2013/14 season. Ryan Clarke was in goal and the back four consisted of Andrew Whing, Jake Wright, Johnny Mullins, and Ewan McNeil. The midfield consisted of Danny Rose and Nicky Wroe in midfield and Ryan Williams, Dave Kitson, and Sean Rigg in the attacking midfield. James Constable was our striker.
The average ratings and any goals scored are included in this table. Our two most prolific goalscorers were James Constable with 46 goals in 53 appearances across all competitions and Nicky Wroe with 16 in 57 appearances.
I’m not going to cover the entire team, because that will run this article far too long, but I’m going to look back at a couple of players from the Best XI that I remember who made a real impact to the team during this first season.
Speaking of Nicky Wroe, it’s safe to say he goes down as my favourite footballer during my three-year tenure at Oxford. When I joined the team he was in on loan from Preston North End. I remember him as only rarely missing a match, as evidenced by him having the most appearances this season of all players. He was an asset to the midfield, always being there for the link-up, and compared to his partner Danny Rose, he was very capable as a playmaker in his own right, scoring 12 assists alongside his 12 league goals and goals in other competitions.
I remember very well that when the season ended and our promotion to League 1 was confirmed, there was a piece in my news feed announcing that Nicky Wroe saw no future at Preston, and with his contract due to run out soon, he wanted to join Oxford United full-time. I snatched up that opportunity, and he would stay with the club as a permanent member from the 2014/15 season until his retirement during the 2018/19 season, by which point he had been the team captain for two years after I promoted him to the position during my last season (2015/16). Since his retirement about a year ago, he’s been unemployed and looking for a job as a Head of Youth Development.
There are objectively better players in the team, and I’ll go over them in due time, but I have to say that Nicky Wroe is one of the players who really stood out to me and was a brilliant asset to the team, hence my remembering him with such fondness!
James Constable was our top goalscorer that year and he was our first choice striker. He joined the club in the Conference Premier Division during the 2008/09 season but was only with the club for two seasons during my tenure.
He enjoyed some of his best football with the team during this season, and he appeared 43 times during the league season while scoring 28 and assisting in 14 goals. When I look back at him, I remember him as the man who could get the ball in the net. He was easily the best in the current team as far as skill goes and he was instrumental to our success that season, though he couldn’t quite step up to compete in League 1.
During the 2014/15 League 1 season, he appeared roughly the same amount of time on the field during our campaign, but he ultimately wasn’t able to keep up with the higher-quality strikers in the league, and I ended up selling him late in the off-season the next year to bring in another player.
He was still fantastic for us in League 2 at least, and he’s a team icon for a reason with his performances over the years with the club. He retired after failing to sign on with a new club during the 15/16 season, and now he’s a Head of Youth Development for Tranmere.
The last player I’m going to cover in Andy Whing. He was a pretty versatile guy, but for the 2013/14 season, he spent a lot of time as a right full-back. He appeared 36 times and only contributed 1 assist. He was still an excellent defender and usually could intelligently play the ball up to the midfield for them to do their magic.
He would score more goals in the second season when we made it to League 1, and he was rated better overall per match, but like Constable he wasn’t really someone who was cutting it for League 1 play when we were pushing for reaching higher in the table after the successes of the 2014/15 League One season, so I ultimately let him go as well.
These days he’s a manager, and following a gig as an assistant manager somewhere, he’s now in charge of the South African national team, a role he’s been holding for a couple of years now.
This was our transfer business for the season. Most outgoing players were youngsters the HOYD recommended I loan out, though we did make one sale, selling New Zealander Max Crocombe to Doncaster for $42.5k, since he was a reserve and was going to be surplus to requirements by the end of the season.
Incoming players included Ewan McNeil on a transfer, New Zealand international Cameron Howieson on loan from Burnley, and Graeme Robinson, a newgen I poached out of the Middlesborough FC academy during the Youth Intake.
Howieson was a good reserve player and made his fair share of off-the-bench appearances, and McNeil was fantastic as a left full-back. The highlight for me was Graeme Robinson, a high potential goalkeeper who was making some good moves for us even at a young age.
I’ll get into the details of his transfer in the next update when I cover the 2014/15 season, but to shorten the story, he was signed to Newcastle and in 2020 is a regular Manchester City goalkeeper now, meaning despite his short year at the club, it’s safe to consider him the most successful of youngsters who spent development time with the academy under my management.
That will wrap up this update, but in the next one, we’re going to go over the 2014/15 League 1 season with Oxford United as I work my way through time to get to December 2020 and the modern-day (for the game anyway) Leicester City side that I’m managing.