FM23 Hero Key Art 1

Well hello there. It’s been a long time, no? How are you? I didn’t expect to be writing something for you, my loyal reader, ever again in the Football Manager sense.

And yet, like a heroin addict unable to say no to a free hit, here I am preparing to spout absolute drivel in your general direction for the next few virtual seasons or, as the title of this ‘project’ suggests, until 2050.

Yeah, we both know that neither of us will stick it out that long but hey – why let the actual truth stand in the way of a much-belated FM19 save reveal, eh?

There were plans for this FM website to go up a class and become something far grander than I’ve attempted before but, frankly, it was just a ruse to get rid of all the writers so it can become my own personal FM propaganda machine once more. (I am joking, there were plans to make this a little bit different to what we’ve done before but they have been benched quicker than Anthony Martial despite scoring twice against Chelsea).

I hope I publish this piece soon enough for that gag to still be remotely relevant.

Anyway, FM19 looks rather cool, doesn’t it?

Thanks as ever to the kind souls over at SI HQ for remembering that they drunkenly promised me a free copy for life for letting them fly over to Spain a few years ago, get 48 hours in the sun and patiently run through 453 takes for me to get the simplest of sentences recorded for ‘We are the Managers’ back in what I think was FM16? It’s nice to see the next major project Louis Myles took on was a documentary about a footballer who wasn’t really a footballer conning a career out the game for 20 years – a theme developing, perhaps?

Anyway, FM19 and all that.

Having not played or written about FM for what must be over six months now, there is nothing like a new game waved under your nose to make you forget all the promises of ‘yeah, I’ve grown out of it now – maybe we can spend evenings talking to each other?’ and ‘to be honest, I just found it boring playing a computer game for no real reason for four hours a day’.

Fuck that. FM19 looks decent and it has my full attention as of now.

And with that attention, I’ve decided what I am going to try and do this ‘season’ ‘version’ edition (is that the correct turn of phrase?).

Project 2050

So what is Project 2050?

The Chinese Premier Xi Jinping unveiled grand plans back in 2016 to turn China into a world football superpower by the year 2050.

I think we can all agree, it’s not going that well right now.

There was a brief flurry of big-name signings to the CSL, coaches and managers were happy to top up their pension by moving to China but nothing really changed.

We are no closer today to China winning the World Cup, the Chinese Messi signing for Barcelona or the CSL being a credible top-flight than we were when Nicolas Anelka was unveiled as a player-manager at Shanghai back in 2012.

Simply put, they are not on track.

Plenty of money is being invested in grassroots football in China, that I accept. And there is every chance that, eventually, that will lead to China becoming a world football superpower. But, I am not planning to be writing about FM50 so I need to have a crack at this in the virtual world to see if can be done.

So I am off to China with a view to making China the world football superpower that President Jinping still dreams of to this very day.

But what does the soundbyte ‘world football superpower’ actually mean?

I’ve decided to try and define it a bit like this;

By the year 2050 the following will be in place…

The Chinese Super League

️⚽️ a credible top-flight league ranking alongside the English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A etc

How will I prove this to be so?

☑️ League ranking in world terms

☑️ The world’s top players playing in it (will need to develop a framework to best quantify ‘the best players in the world’)

☑️Chinese Super League sides regularly winning continental and world honours

What is the risk attached to this?

❎ The CSL becomes another EPL – full of international stars but not enough homegrown talent – theoretically, the restrictions on foreign players that we will look at in the country guide nearer the time will hopefully prevent this from happening

The National Team

️⚽️ Consistently in FIFA’s top ten ranked nations (for me, consistent would have to be over a multi-year period)

How will I be able to prove this?

☑️ The FIFA World Ranking

☑️ Consistent qualification for the World Cup (say, four out of five)

☑️ Winning continental tournaments

☑️ Winning tournaments at youth level

Other indicators

☑️ Players and coaches moving to Europe in the years leading up to us being considered a world football superpower

☑️ Finances – Chinese clubs becoming the richest in the world through their own means, not sugardaddies

The rough timeline

32 years to China's FM world dominaton

Key areas I will be focusing on

? Why I have chosen the club I have chosen

? Club identity/DNA and whether it is even needed

? Player development and pathways

? Scouting and recruitment (time to crack open my original StS and update it)

? Tactics (does that fit into identity? Possibly)

? Training to win (the whole training set-up on FM19 looks amazing)

? Turning all that (?) into something worth reading

So, that is the plan.

Having learned some valuable lessons on FM18 about doing grand reveals of save ideas too soon (I am sure someone, somewhere has a spreadsheet noting how many original save ideas get past three posts before various towels are chucked in) I’m waiting until full release before I actually pack my bags and head off to the Far East.

I am still burning from Brescia, so rather than getting into it now I am just messing about at Boca Juniors in Argentina and getting my head round some of the new features whilst trying to replicate an old favourite tactic of mine – much of my FM enjoyment comes from finding a tactic that (a) wins more than it loses, (b) doesn’t need me to make complex changes every game and (c) I enjoy watching in motion. If I can’t nail that, I’ll call it a day again.

But, between now and then I’ll probably knock up a couple of other posts around what I have learned in BETA so far, a guide to China and rubbish like that.

We shall speak soon…

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