Another update, another year! Welcome back to my trip down memory lane in Football Manager 2014. The previous five updates have seen us in charge of Oxford United, Charlton Athletic, West Bromwich Albion, the France U19s, and the USA U23s. In this update, we’re finally reaching the much teased-at position with my current employer, Leicester City, and we’re going to attempt to secure my name in British soccer by taking this team to English glory!
If you’re new to the series, click here to go back to part one and my 2013-14 season with Oxford United. If you just need to brush up on last week’s article, click here to see my year with West Brom.
I took charge of this team around April 2016 in real life. After playing it on and off for the better part of a year, I was twiddling my thumbs advancing forward during my stint in charge of the United States U23s. The media was in a stir over Leicester’s being on the verge of upsetting the Premier League with its first league victory, and I happened to see Leicester City come up as a club looking for a manager. I had to check them out, because after being bored for the better part of a year trying to slog through this save – and almost abandoning it entirely – I saw a new idea inspiring me!
In the 2014 edition of the game, Leicester was a mid-table Championship team that hadn’t been in the top flight for a couple of years, and nothing had changed by January 2020. In fact, the team was looking for a new manager because relegation could have been a possibility if the current streak of losses continued!
I ditched the boring US national team right away to apply for a new club position, and I became the immediate favourite for the role, thanks to my Premier League and international experience. When I took the job, the media were puzzled, and my first interview consisted of questions about why I would step down to such a small club with my resume. Uh, because I wanted to? Because I viewed the club as a team who could go somewhere, and I wanted to be a part of it and attempt to save them relegation?
I took charge of the club following a loss streak on January 15, three days ahead of a home match against Watford. I wish I could say we started off strongly, but we lost that match! However, our team was very well suited to my Oxford 4-2-3-1, so I simply renamed it to “Leicester 4-2-3-1” and we saw a seven-match unbeaten run before our next loss at the start of March. May was a rough month for us with a series of draws and a loss as the team suffered a few injuries and just had some bad luck in general, but on the whole, things were going better than the club would have expected coming into the new year.
By the end of the season, thanks to our strong winning streak, we were able to pull together enough points to climb from 19th up to 9th, proving once again that I am a competent Championship manager. With a successful half season to get my feet wet after two years of international management and vacationing, it’s time to turn towards trying to make a successful push to the Premier League. That will be the real challenge for me when the time comes. I’ve manage teams that were stable in their status as Premier League teams, but to this day I’ve never experienced the trials that come with promoting a team to survive in the Premier League.
Moving on to transfers, I didn’t make any transfer business. I used to cut teams up to fit my own image without giving the regulars a chance in the team, but around 2016, I had started my current philosophy of always giving the existing team half a season to impress before making cuts, unless it was absolutely necessary to make a transfer for the good of the team. In this case, there was only one transfer after my official hire, and that was confirming an existing loan agreement that needed to be finalised.
As we’ve done in previous updates, I’m going to review three players who left an impression on me, whether good or bad.
Canadian defender David Edgar joined Leicester City for $675k in the 2015-16 season and has been a regular member of the team since then. Looking at his performances over the last season, he wasn’t a bad man, and he got the job done well enough. He would have 2 goals, 2 assists, and 3 player of the match awards during this season, ending with a 7.15 rating. It wasn’t a remarkable season compared to some of his previous seasons, but the man is in his mid-thirties now. I had some potential younger options in the youth teams that weren’t that far from coming off the bench, and I had a few other defenders coming into their prime years who could still give me good results, so despite him being part of the team of the year, I made the decision that it was time to let him go in favour of some younger players.
Edgar was picked up on a free transfer in the off-season and is playing for Lekhwiya in Qatar now.
Striker Bjorn Sigurdarson has been with Leicester since his $1.1m transfer from the Wolves in the 2015-16 season. Since then, he’s been a regular player for the team, though his record for goals scored in a season would only be 13, with less than ten being typical. He’s been having very average seasons since he joined, and if the year I’ve spent at the club is anything to go by, he’s not really cutting it for our team. Most of the other strikers are capable scorers in our 4-2-3-1 lineup, but it’s normal for him to go a dozen games before surprising with 2 goals before having another dry spell.
While Sigurdarson was a fairly regular – if unremarkable – player in the past, he’s been having some trouble finding his way into my team this year, making only 6 appearances up until February 2021 when the screenshot was captured. He’s out of contract at the end of the year, and I don’t plan on retaining his services. He’s been too inconsistent for me, and I’ve got three strikers who can fit into my system and make things happen, and they stand to gain by him losing his spot as a regular member of the starting eleven.
Lewis Grabban joined us in the 2018-19 season from Bournemouth for $525k. He’s equally comfortable as a right-side attacking-midfielder and as a forward, and in a pinch, he can play the left side. He’s a solid player for us, and regardless of whether or not he’s on the wing or on top, he’s going to find a way to score. In 45 appearances last season, Grabban scored 18 league goals and assisted 6, making him the team leader for goals scored.
Grabban had some stiff competition on the wing at the start of the season, meaning he has only appeared 12 times so far, but he’s had his time to shine recently with injuries, and after scoring 9 and assisting 6 in those appearances, he’s taken back his regular spot from who I thought would be a replacement. His worst year on record was his one year in the Premier League with Bournemouth, so with Leicester City sitting in second and fighting to earn a promotion, I’m curious if he’s going to step up and perform under my management in the Premier League. We’ll have to play it by ear, but we know that at the moment, he’s been a very capable Championship level attacker for the last seven years of his career.
It’s taken a good month and a half to make it to where we are now, but we’re finally going to to be covering current events soon! In the next update, we’re going to do a half-season recap to cover the team’s status up to the 2020/21 winter transfer window, and then we’re going to be caught up with the team’s position in February 2021 as we fight to enter the top flight and search for some sought-after Premier League glory for both the team and for myself as a manager.