FM 16 Stories: Could Messi & Ronaldo Together Save Aston Villa’s Season?
Can Messi and Ronaldo save Villa? Aston Villa are currently dead bottom and up until now, have been nothing short of terrible.
Aston Villa are currently dead bottom of the Premier League, and up until now, have been nothing short of terrible. Michael Owen ingeniously once said “if they don’t score, they hardly ever win” and that’s exactly Villa’s problem right now (that and a million other things, but the lack of goals is alarming). So we wanted to a find a solution to their dire situation, with the help of our favourite game Football Manager.
We could’ve just given them one of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but something told me Villa would need slightly more than just one superstar, so we gave them two. With the Ballon d’Or round the corner which superstar would prevail? Who would score more goals? Could Messi do it on a cold night at Villa Park, week in, week out? We didn’t make any signings because the point of this is to see how much Messi and Ronaldo can help their otherwise terrible squad? I gave myself a self-imposed transfer ban of sort. Given that in real life, most wonderkids won’t want to sign for Villa. No incomings. No outgoings. Just Messi & Ronaldo.
I wasn’t interested in if Ronaldo and Messi could save a team full of my carefully crafted wonderkids, because I could save Villa without them if I had free reign over transfers. But I didn’t, I needed to find out if Messi and Ronaldo could save the current crop of failing Villa stars.
The season started off pretty terribly as the lads succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Southampton at home, which was pleasingly followed up with a 4-1 away win at Stoke. Ronaldo got a hat-trick and Messi bagged two assists and a goal for himself and things began to look a bit more positive. I knew most good things that happened this season would come from those two, but my self-imposed transfer ban forced me to find a delicate blend in my team between a potent attack and a substandard defence (barring Jordan Amavi, who is secretly one of the better young left-backs on FM16).
That brilliant away win at Stoke was followed up with an uninspiring 2-1 defeat at home to Leicester. Next was Fleetwood (H) in the League Cup, a match we embarrassingly nearly lost, but somehow scraped through 3-1. Then came Manchester City (A), who dispatched of us 3-0 as if we were nothing. The lads got the blow dryer treatment after as that performance was a f*cking joke. Then we began our journey into the regular season.
I remained unbeaten in the next four, winning three (which also included a win over Arsenal) to somehow lift the team into seventh, but still just seven points clear of the relegation zone. Ronaldo and Messi were already making my team better, as Jack Grealish (average rating of 7.45 after 10 games) and Adama Traore (3 goals, 2 assists in 6 games), benefited most from their arrival.
Following a run of five wins from six, I then won just 2 of my next 11 games, which included an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at home to Norwich in the League Cup quarterfinals. An opportunity wasted one might say. Gary Monk just got sacked for a similar run of results so I knew nobody was untouchable at this club, not even me. Still, my earlier season endeavours meant I was still ninth. Ronaldo was the top scorer with 19 goals, but Messi was faltering. Maybe Ronaldo’s PL experience allowed for a smooth transition Messi could only dream of, having gone from playing with Luis Suarez & Neymar to Gabriel Agbonlahor & Libor Kozak.
I had a huge FA Cup third round meeting away at Birmingham to negotiate in the next week and I knew losing this could take me from wonderkid-manager to accident waiting to happen in just a few months. Heading into the game, we’d won just once in our last six matches, losing the last three on the spin. Ronaldo was injured for the next two months, and Messi wasn’t back in training for another week. Great.
We still scraped through 1-0 courtesy of a late Jordan Ayew winner to settle things. Hopefully, a derby win could serve as a turning point to help us strive up the table again. We were safe for now, but if we kept winning so infrequently, we’d find ourselves in danger in no time. In my next seven games I won 3 and lost 4, a satisfying return given the circumstances.
Losses to Manchester City (H), Newcastle (A), Stoke (A) and Arsenal (A) were forgiven as we beat Liverpool and also secured safe passage to the FA Cup sixth round. We were 12th in the table, and some 13 points clear of the relegation zone with 11 games left to play.
At this point, my Premier League survival was pretty much guaranteed, so now the question was how far could this team go in the next 11 games? Top half? Top seven? Bottom seven? I told the boys nothing less than a top eight finish would do, and the lads definitely got the memo.
In the next three games, we won two, thumping Manchester United 5-2 (H) and Sunderland 5-1 (A) in an impressive mini-run to cement our European football credentials. After those wins, the season kind of just petered out with us winning most games and we remarkably finished the year in seventh.
So from surefire relegation candidates, we had now secured European football in a remarkable turnaround. I said this team needs goals, and that’s exactly what Ronaldo & Messi brought to the table:
- Cristiano Ronaldo – 41 games, 40 goals, 13 assists
- Messi – 35 games, 18 goals, 22 assists
The two superstars brought in an extra 58 goals, so as expected, that was more than enough to keep Villa out of danger. But if we finished anywhere less than 10th, surely we would have to regard ourselves as more of a laughingstock than the relegation candidates in real life.
Unlike real life, FM 16 rates some of Aston Villa’s players quite highly. Jordan Amavi (40 games, 9 assists, average rating of 7.34), Adama Traore (38 games, 8 goals, 13 assists, average rating of 7.18) and Idrissa Gueye (40 games, average rating of 7.44) were all standout performers. But for one reason or another, they don’t play like they should in real life. Granted, any team is better with Ronaldo & Messi up-top, but those Villa players should still be doing a lot better than they are so far. Takeaways from this experiment:
- Ronaldo’s Premier League experience meant he scored more than double the amount Messi did. Does that mean Messi can’t do it on a cold night away at Stoke?
- Villa’s players should really be doing better than they are (they’re not as terrible as their league position suggests)
- Ronaldo and Messi are pretty good