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FM18 | Plug In Baby | #1

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Greetings. For those of you who don’t know me, I specialise in playing and blogging about old Championship Manager games. You could say I have written the book on the old CM series, or a book at least. I still buy FM every year, it isn’t some sort of protest about the way the series has gone. I just don’t have the spare time that I perceive to be required to be a success. Nobody likes losing every week, it’s somehow harder to watch it in 3D form. Anyway, I usually delve into FM18 over a holiday, such as Christmas, fail by New Year’s Day and move on with my life. That was no different this year, but as Easter rolled around, a desire burned in me. A desire to put things right.

There’s no doubt in my mind that my biggest weakness is the tactics I am setting these idiots up with. I really gave the game a go, every facet was covered. Training was slick. I had cones and bibs. The coaches were on point. The players were more than capable of performing at that level, I didn’t even sign many of them. No, the failings definitely came in the 90 minutes where I was stood in the technical area wondering where it all went wrong.

I can get through a season in about 3 hours on CM9798. That’s of pure game time, I’ll allow myself to stop the clock if I need to delve into the transfer market. I have a tactic, it works, I buy players that fit into the tactic. But that won’t work here…or will it?

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about what works in FM18. Watching streams, having my ear to the ground. It can’t just be me? No, apparently it is. A new approach is needed. I have decided I probably over complicate things, trying to use every new and shiny feature. Push up, get stuck in, get wide, drill those crosses low, press more! Too many instructions. Maybe not enough instructions. It’s nothing like CM9798.

So I’ve removed the constraint. I’ve looked around online and found a formation that is a proven winner. A chap called The Reckonist used this formation and Stoke won the Premier League in season one. Just let that sink in, they’re about to be relegated in reality. Even Berahino scored goals. This is the formation for me.

The plan, therefore, is to load in this formation and use it all season. I’ll do everything else, but the formation stays. It’s a 5-2-3, apparently, the AI can’t handle three central strikers. I’ll see to that. The basic gist of the formation is that it gives up possession, draws the opposition on to you and then the ball playing defenders wallop it over the top. Jamie Vardy should have a party. Riyad Mahrez less so.

I’ve decided to be Leicester, they have a budget and several players who fit the mould. Let’s get down to business.

Let’s assess the squad…


We’re fine here. Kasper Schmeichel is vice-captain and definitely my number one, though he’s ably supported by Edin Jakupovic and Ben Hamer, who I think won X Factor a few years ago.


The formation needs three centre-halves who are comfortable on the ball, which immediately puts Wes Morgan’s position under threat. Harry Maguire is a great fit, he loves being on the ball. A chap on loan called Dragovic also seems useful, I’ll almost certainly buy someone else. Benalouane, Morgan and Huth (currently crocked) will form poor backup, but they’ll do. Morgan is club captain, so I don’t really want to annoy him and upset a squad who probably already think I’m a bit of a tosser.


We only need two starting central midfielders, with Ndidi, Adrien Silva and Iborra three very good options. No further investment requires. Matty James is also there, I don’t know what he does but he’s got Carabao Cup written all over him. The wing-backs are my main concern. The left-sided one is supposed to be inverted, which is bad news for the two left-footers Chilwell and Fuchs. Marc Albrighton has made a bit of a niche for himself as a wing back so he might be able to do the left side, but either way, we probably need another one.


This formation is ideal for Jamie Vardy, he’ll be a key man. Iheanacho is probably too good for Leicester so that bodes well, whilst Okazaki is ok but lacks the pace to be the real deal in this formation. I want more forwards, and with £30m in the bank, we’ll probably be able to do it.

Mahrez wants to leave. I play the old “oh really Riyad?” face but in my mind, he is just a big pound sign. A 34m pound sign. Barcelona and Real Madrid are interested, I await their bid with open arms. My poker face is non-existent.

If you want a pacey striker to be a nuisance then look no further than Shane Long. Sure, he can’t finish his dinner but Southampton have him transfer listed and what’s £14m between friends? He can always pass the ball to somebody more competent once he has done the running. A deal is soon struck, Southampton probably can’t believe their luck. I’m also lining up Nastasic to play as the middle centre-half. He was a bit rubbish for Man City a number of years ago but I’m confident he has matured. £24m later and he’s mine.

Thankfully Real Madrid take the Mahrez bait, though we lose quite a lot of the deal to Le Havre. Pesky sell on clause. I don’t mind though, it’s balanced my two signings and paves way for our third signing – Matteo Darmian on loan from Man Utd. He’s not attacking in the slightest, which makes him an odd choice in this formation, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Swansea want Christian Fuchs. That’s handy because I would quite like Jordan Ayew. I offer Fuchs and £7m for the younger of the Ayew brothers and amazingly, Swansea lap it up. Wes Morgan is furious. Fuchsy (it’s not a good surname for nicknames) was a great lad apparently, and had “class in abundance.” Climb out, Wes. Ben Chilwell is the future. Watford are keen on Okazaki and he’s valued at £13m, so if they stump up the cash I have no doubt Wes will be back in my office whinging.

That’s the dealing done. Time will tell if it is a success.

Pre-season looks to have been a success, all I can see is that this formation will wipe the floor with poor opposition. We score 10 in one game, that probably borders on cruelty. It’s one thing to be able to produce it on a South African tour but how will it stack up in the Premier League?

We’re about to find out. We’re off to Huddersfield. The newly promoted Tykes will no doubt have the place rocking. I’m quietly confident…Wagner loves to have pointless possession and that is where we this formation will live or dive. Rope-a-dope.

Schmeichel has rolled an ankle and is only fit enough for the bench, Jaku will be fine though. Otherwise, it’s probably my best team.

It’s an awful game for 40 minutes but Iheanacho puts us in the lead just before half-time and that seems to release the pressure. Jordan Ayew scores on 46 and 55 and management is easy. Steve Mounie scores twice in 4 minutes though and it’s all a bit nervy, so when Kachunga equalises on 88 minutes I’m ready to throttle them all. Not to worry though, super sub Long heads in the winner a minute later. A 4-3 win, hardly any possession, a whole season of this is going to be fun.










Or it might not be. The same side goes to Palace a week later and we’re poor. Palace don’t want the ball and we don’t want the ball. So nothing happens. Scott Dann scores from a corner and we have no response. The King Power falls silent. That’s a poor result.

We have the chance to put it right 4 days later as we head off to Accrington for a Carabao Cup 2nd round tie. John Coleman has basically said I am scum in his press conference, which seems more than a little harsh. Maybe he’d like me if he got to know me?

I make some changes for Accrington. Vardy is rested for Long, I really can’t afford to lose him for any great period of time. Schmeichel is fit again so he’s in goal, and Wes Morgan plays ahead of Nastasic who the medical team keep warning me has a history of damaging his cruciate ligament. Surely this is why we do medicals? Tell me about this before I spend £24m next time. Albrighton is in at left wing back as I want to see how he does.

We’re behind. Here we go again. But Iheanacho equalises and before long we’re stroking the ball around the park like Brazil 1970. We win 6-1.

Shove that up your arse, John Coleman. He took it in good grace.

For the final game of August, we’re off to Goodison Park. Another team who, under Big Sam, probably won’t have lots of possession. That doesn’t bode well for us and Iheanacho is out too, so all hail Shane Long.

We couldn’t pick better opponents than Everton. Their centre-halves are old and slow, or Jagielka and Williams as they prefer to be known. Big Sam can’t coach possession so they keep losing the ball and the plan works a treat. We score twice but only a series of poor finishes straight at Joel Robles saves it from being 4 or 5. A lovely win.

It’s only August but here’s the table. End the season now.

There’s the end of the transfer window and then an International break to come, so I’ll catch you all up soon. Toodles for now.

David Black
You'll usually find me playing old Championship Manager games and blogging about them either here or on cm9798.co.uk. There's also two books of mine out there about the beautiful game, follow me on Twitter.

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