In case you missed it, using the FM 16 editor tool, I started off this journey with Barcelona in League 2, and set myself the target of winning every single competition possible in English football from League 2 upwards. From the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy to the Champions League, I was determined to do it. I gained back-to-back promotions throughout the Football League, scoring at least 150 league goals in every season and also remaining unbeaten in the process and winning a few cups along the way too.
The team I entered the Premier League with is far different to the team I started with however. Gone were the days of ‘MSN’ (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) as now, it was time for ‘MNM’ (Messi, Neymar, Martial). The likes of Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta had also been sold off, paving the way for a new crop of youngsters to shine. There were also a few surprises along the way too, as Demarai Gray, Callum Wilson and Kieren Ozil-Trippier (more on this later) emerged as key players.
The season started with a flurry of first-team players (including Jordi Alba, Aleix Vidal, Aymeric Laporte & Breel Embolo) all demanding Champions League football, so I reassured every player that we would achieve that feat this season. Each one piped down and I was then ready to go about making my summer signings. I was in search of another goalkeeper and from our FM 16 wonderkids reports; I knew there were few better long-term options than Gianluigi Donnarumma. So I signed him for £27m, thus spelling the end of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s run as being my undisputed number 1. I also noticed that David Silva was transfer-listed for £7.5m, and was still in good nick, so I snapped him up as well in what could be the bargain of the season.
Start of season – January transfer window
The season started with a Community Shield victory over Arsenal and an 8-0 demolition of Everton in our first league game. That result set me in good stead for the tough run of games I had to birth my team into the Premier League – Everton (H), Sunderland (A), Spurs (A), Chelsea (A), Stoke (H). By the time of the Stoke game, which I won 9-0, we had a goal difference of +21 after just 5 games and sat on top of the pile:
Things weren’t all plain sailing though, as Arsenal beat me 1-0 two games later, reminding us we were still mere mortals in English football. I won the next few games and drew Manchester United in the League Cup quarterfinals for the third year in a row.
We saw off United 2-1 and between then and the New Year, things played out as expected and I headed into 2019 locked deep in a title-fight. Credit must also go to Breel Embolo (17 goals, 7 assists in 23 games) and Demarai Gray (8 goals, 11 assists in 20 games) who had been tearing things up, but the real surprise of the season was Kieran Trippier, who from this point onwards, will adopt his new name of Kieran Ozil-Trippier. In his role as second-choice right-back, Trippier steamrolled his way to 11 assists in his first 11 games of the season, scoring once along the way. That form set the tone for a brilliant second half of the season which saw him eventually become my number-one right back.
January transfer window – end of season
Premier League: 1st
League Cup: Semi-finals (vs Man City)
FA Cup: 3rd round (vs Sunderland)
Europa League: 1st knockout round (vs Steaua)
The title-race was heating up, with me and my newfound rivals Manchester United going neck-and-neck at the top, with Arsenal hot on our heels. I had been doing okay but defeats to Arsenal (A), Man Utd (A) and West Ham (WTF) injected a welcomed dose of humility in the Camp Nou, and reminded me I still had holes to fill, however small they seemed.
My away form was shaky, failing to beat the teams around me on the road, if I beat Chelsea (D), Arsenal (L), Manchester United (L), I would have had eight more points, which could come back to bite me, but it probably won’t because my team’s incredible. Still, my form was good enough to see of Manchester City 4-2 on aggregate to cruise into the League Cup final, and to rub salt in City’s wounds, Luis Suarez was sent off in the second-leg:
Upon his departure from the pitch, Suarez tried to bad-mouth Neymar, who remained calm and therefore avoided me throwing another orange at his head in the dressing after, a-la Ferguson/Beckham 2.0. I didn’t sign anyone in January and kept faith in my current crop. Ozil-Trippier was getting better by the week and the rest of the team were doing the business. There was a brief period where I fell to second place, but heading into the League Cup final, I was regained top spot and had also seen of Steaua in the first knockout round of the Europa League.
Then came that chaotic cup final. Aymeric Laporte was sent off after just five minutes and City raced to a 2-1 lead, leaving us 3-2 down at the half. Thanks a f***ing bunch Laporte. There was no time for crying however as I gave the team-talk of a lifetime (again) to spur an inspirational comeback. Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal were having a rough time on the right, while up-top, Martial was virtually a non-factor, so I made a bold triple-sub and the rest was history. In came Gray (1 assist), Embolo (1 goal and 1 assist) and Trippier (avg rating of 7.0) and suddenly, we were 6-4 up with 90 minutes approaching and the comeback was complete. Oh, and Callum Wilson got 4 goals to take his tally to 30 for the season at the start of March.
In a remarkable turn of events, I also became England manager when Roberto Martinez left his post, so from March 2019 onwards, I was the manager of both Barcelona and England. Having watched England fall painfully short at Euro 2016 (semifinals) and the 2018 World Cup (quarterfinals), I knew that trophy drought wasn’t going to solve itself. I gave debuts to Ravel Morrison (avg rating of 7.76 in 21 games) & Kieran Ozil-Trippier (17 assists in 23 games) in my first game in charge against Lithuania (A), which we won 5-0.
After that came a few Premier League wins, before I saw off a stern and stubborn Galatasaray side 2-0 on aggregate in the Europa League quarterfinals, which was followed up with a disappointing loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinal on penalties. However, in the game after, I knew a win could secure the title, and what better way to get revenge for the FA Cup than to crush United’s title dreams, which we did.
Trailing 1-0 at half-time, the boys made it 2-1 in the second-half, courtesy of a Kieran Ozil-Trippier (who else?!) winner in the 87th minute to gift us our first Premier League title. I then lost the first-leg of my Europa League semi-final against Marseille 4-3 (A). With just seconds remaining, Martial popped up with what could prove to be a huge goal in the grand scheme of things, but only time would tell. In the dressing room before the second-leg against OM, and Neymar’s questioning my bottle to win the Europa League, so I threw an orange at him which he bizarrely scraped off his head and an ate, before laying on three assists in what was an absolute demolition.
I ended the domestic season with the league’s top-two highest goalscorers (Messi: 32, Wilson: 23) and the top-two assisters (Messi: 16, Neymar: 15), and sat ten points clear of the rest of the pack. All that was left now was the small issue of a Europa League final to deal with. I knew that if I won this, my mission to win every single trophy possible from League 2 – Premier League would be alive. If I lost, I’d probably never be in the Europa League again, so this was a huge match for me. Donnarumma got the nod in goal, Kieran Ozil-Trippier got the nod at right-back, Wilson started over Embolo & Gray, and there we were. Standing in Stade Roi Baudouin (where?!) on the cusp of a fake-treble (League, League Cup & Europa League). What a time. My Barcelona safely secured the trophy.
So after one season in the Premier League, I’d won three trophies and also had the top-scorer/assister in both the Premier League and Europa League.
Premier League: Top Scorer – Messi (32), Most Assists – Messi (16)
Europa League: Top Scorer – Martial (14), Most Assists – Trippier (9)
Three of my players scored 35 or more goals (Messi, Martial & Wilson) and a further four chipped in with at least 15 goals (Jordon Ibe, Neymar, Gray & Embolo). The assist charts got a bit silly though, as nine players recorded at least ten assists, and three (Messi, Neymar & Trippier) got 20 or more, with Messi leading the way with 25 overall. Statistically , it was an insane season, but there was room for improvement. Next year I want the quadruple, not a poor man’s treble. I want a Champions League and FA Cup win to compliment my league victory, but I knew I had a tough ask in achieving that.
Would I be able to achieve the quadruple next season? Stay tuned to see what will become…
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