It’s not easy being an Arsenal fan these days. After the happy times under Arsène Wenger divulged into yearly high blood pressure thanks to on-pitch results and the ficklest fanbase in England, things at the Emirates may have finally stabilized.

Now under Unai Emery, Gooners the world over will have the question “is this what we wished for?” answered. The beautiful nature of gaming – on both pc and console alike – is the ability to live in a world where you have control over what your favorite club does. Football manager provides the best experience with which to make your twitter rant-filled dreams into reality; at least using 1’s and 0’s.

Finally biting the Arsenal bullet

I normally do not undertake an Arsenal save in Football Manager; usually because, well, it is not nearly as challenging as countless other options on offer. This year, however, I finally bit the bullet for the first time in four or five FM installments.

Our struggles as a club are well documented. We have been poor in the market and horrific at contract negotiations. There are questions surrounding our youth system, and we are currently engulfed in trying to sort out what our identity moving forward should be in the post-Wenger era. What better time to take my actual thoughts on the state of the club and plug them into how I would go about things in a save.

In that light, I decided to make a commitment to documenting the save through a blog as I navigate English football in my bid to get Arsenal back to the top; and stay there.

Rather than pump out a handful of massive posts covering months of gameplay at once, I decided that writing about each step of the process once taking over at the Emirates made more sense. I felt it would provide a better balance for each new post to cover a month of in-game events.

An Arsenal save for the community

What I am truly hoping for is plenty of fan interaction; how you would handle the job, whether you agree or disagree with decisions I have made, what your best and worst experiences have been in your saves over the years, and everything in-between.

I have found that the Football Manager community is actually quite friendly. Everyone I have come across loves to talk tactics in the game, wonderkids they go after, their best transfer deals that they have pulled off, and their best achievements at the highest levels of the game. Hopefully, this blog will garner at least some of that.

What should Arsenal become?

Before sitting down and starting the save in earnest, I wanted to put some actual thought into some of the things I wanted to achieve and how that would correlate to the club. Here are some ideas and targets I considered;

  • What identity I wanted to bring to the club on the pitch. Answering this one question would provide a trickle-down effect into all other aspects; tactics I would likely employ, the type of players I would bring in, those who I would personally take to the departures gate at Heathrow, and how I would shape the club’s finances.
  • Do I want to try to give the club an immediate title and pour countless resources into winning the league in year one, or, do I conjure up a 3-5-year plan that can target long-term and consistent success?
  • What should my financial model then be; sustainable akin to a club like Borussia Dortmund (for more on that debate, give a read to Michael’s brilliant recent piece at You Are My Arsenal), or should I use my financial strength to buy high priced talent.
  • Should I use my youth academy to supply the first team or to supply me with residual funds to negotiate the market?

All these questions will be tackled in the coming days, weeks, months, and hopefully years, but I would also like to hear from you. How would you undertake the task? You do not have to answer this regarding just Arsenal either; ideas using other clubs are always welcome.

Until next time! COYG