Getting Sacked – And What I Will Do Differently Next Time | Football Manager 2018

Nearly every person who has ever played any incarnation of Football or Championship Manager has been sacked. Some less than others, of course. I, personally, am fairly used to being told to vacate my position as manager.

On FM16 I was sacked by Swansea City. I joined the EPL side after winning the Asian Champions League with Sydney FC but failed to deliver in a far tougher environment. I was also fired from my York City role on FM16, as documented in my first FM series on this site.

On Football Manager 2017 I began my career in Chile with Deportes Puerto Montt. Less than 20 matches later, I’d been sacked. Despite hoping for a long-term save with the club, I only managed 1 win in 14 league games (netting only six goals) and was deservedly sacked.

Continuing the trend, I have now been sacked on FM18 by Brighton & Hove Albion. Take a look at my Twitter thread below to follow what happened over the course of nine hours…

The point of this post is to try and find out what went wrong with Brighton and what I could do better next time to prevent this undesirable outcome from occurring again.

Sacked on FM18 | Where did it all go wrong?

I was sacked as Brighton manager after just 20 PL matches. We crashed out of the Carabao Cup in the second round against League One side Peterborough and also went on a 10 match winless run (with just the one draw). We conceded 49 goals in our 20 league matches, keeping just 1 clean sheet. I was sacked after failing to gain 6 points from five games.

That all sounds pretty horrendous doesn’t it?

Over the course of this post, I will be looking at several areas to see where I went wrong and what I could do differently. Let us begin by looking at where Brighton were predicted to finish in the 2017/2018 season.

Media Prediction

Prediction

With odds of 1000-1, Brighton were predicted by the media to finish 20th in the Premier League. Among the star players highlighted for each side were goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and central-midfielder Davy Propper.

Clearly it was going to be a tough season for whichever person took charge of Brighton. Before we take a deeper look at how I performed as Brighton gaffer, we should first look at how Chris Hughton (the current Brighton boss) would have fared if he were in charge for the 2017/2018 season.

Managing Brighton | Would Chris Hughton have fared better?

Prior to my appointment as manager of Brighton, the club were led by Chris Hughton. The former Newcastle boss had been with B&H since 2014 and secured promotion with the Seagulls in 2017. I ran five simulation tests of FM18 to see how Brighton would perform in the league with Hughton as their boss.

The Simulations

Average position: 17th

Average points: 35

Average goal difference: -31

Hughton helped Brighton survive three out of five PL campaigns. Over the five simulations, Hughton was sacked twice, both at the end of their relegation seasons.

Brighton under Hughton were never in 20th place after 20 PL matches (as I was). In one season they were as high as 7th place after 20 league games.

Why did Brighton fare better with Hughton in charge?

  • The players know and trust their manager, and can carry on playing the same way as last season without the need for an adaptation in their playing style
  • Hughton has managed many clubs before, including some in the Premier League. I joined Brighton as my first role in management
  • Hughton knows his players. He knows their strengths and their weaknesses. There will be no settling in period for Hughton as there would have been for me

The Transfer Window

With the new scouting system in FM18, I haven’t quite become used to the way in which it works. Despite spending multiple hours in pre-season with Brighton, I struggled in the transfer market and I think this hindered our performances.

I made just three first team signings. And, looking back, only one of which I would do again.

Masina v Suttner comparison
Adam Masina

Adam Masina is better in each and every area when compared to Markus Suttner.

  • Striker Jon Bautista scored 3 goals in 17 appearances
  • Lorenzo Crisetig was one of our better central-midfielders and performed better than star player Davy Propper

Jon Bautista was a poor signing and it showed in his performances. Lorenzo Crisetig, on the other hand, is a good player and performed well for us. But he wasn’t the player we needed. Buying Crisetig left us short in terms of defensive midfielders and meant that we couldn’t really play with a DM (except as a deep-lying playmaker) throughout the season.

Our Tactics

We began the season using a 4-5-1 (DM) formation with a counter-attacking mentality.

v arsenal
Brighton’s 4-5-1 (DM) formation

The beginning of the season saw us concede many goals without creating chances for ourselves. This led me to change formation in favour of a more attacking style. The thought being that with our defence performing as badly as it was, we needed to try and outscore our opponents to secure any points.

We changed up to a 4-5-1 (AM) with Davy Propper moving forward into an attacking playmaker role. This, although we created slightly more chances, failed to secure many more points.

  • Star player Davy Propper managed 0 goals and 0 assists in 20 PL games under my management…

I would have liked to have stuck with a more defensive tactic. With this being Brighton’s first in the PL, playing defensive football would allow me time to pick up points here and there against bigger sides whilst hoping to break quickly against our similar sized opponents.

But our weakness in defence did not allow me to stick with this defensive mindset. An improved transfer window would help to allow for more flexibility in terms of our tactics.

Injuries and a Tough Run of Games

New to FM this year is the medical centre. I really like this new feature as it allows for a more in-depth understanding of your players’ injuries.

In the Overview of the Medical Centre, players are shown in order of injury risk. Those with high injury risk are shown towards the top. This is a factor that is perhaps more important than I’d envisaged.

As you can see, we have suffered so many injuries this season and I am sure this contributed to our lack of success. Anthony Knockaert has missed 7 weeks this year, Jose Izquierdo has had five injuries (out for 3 months in total) and Izzy Brown has missed two months of the season.

I should have paid more attention to the medical centre. Squad rotation could be key in this years FM, as can resting your squad. This is one area I will definitely improve upon moving forward.


Check out what changes I made in my next save to help reduce injuries in my squad 

How to Reduce Injuries on Football Manager | FM18


A tough run of games

A minor quibble, but one that does contribute to our poor form, is facing a difficult run of games in the PL. Being the newly promoted club, you must always expect to be playing difficult matches.

Tough Run

Nonetheless, playing 5 of last years top 7 over the space of six games isn’t friendly. We also began the season with Man City then Chelsea (losing both, obviously).

Morale, an element of FM that was very important in last years edition and continues to be so in FM18, will evaporate after a run of games like this. And it did with my Brighton side.

So, what will I do differently next time to avoid getting sacked?

  • Take better care in the transfer market

I’m going to make a list of my players and decide who I need to keep, who I can move on and the positions I need to strengthen. In doing this, not only will I search out players I need but also I will avoid buying players that I don’t.

  • Pre-plan a tactic/formation and adapt it over time

A small change may not work in one match, but if I think it is for the benefit of the team I will stick with it. There were times with Brighton where I knew the idea was correct, but it wasn’t working on the pitch. Changing it only made things worse as it meant that the players had to adapt to another different way of playing.

  • Rest and rotate my squad

With injuries playing such a big part in my tenure with Brighton, I need to take more care when playing those who’ve just returned from injury. I will also make sure to rest the squad in times with a high concentration of matches and rotate the squad as and when I see fit.

Points 2 and 3 are reliant on the success of point 1. A successful transfer market can help to solve squad fitness issues and it will help when adapting your tactics.

I am going to be starting again with Brighton & Hove Albion to see if I can put these points into practice. With any luck I will be able to avoid the sack and make good use of the thumbnails I’d spent a few hours making!


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Though not the most enjoyable post to have experienced, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing it and analysing what went wrong in my job with Brighton.

I’d like to thank you very much for reading this post and feel free to comment below your thoughts. Have you been sacked on FM18 yet? Do you have any more tips on avoiding the sack?

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