Samo’s Stirling – Season Nine

If I get through my ninth season in charge of Stirling on FM18 (this post could end with a sacking for all you know…), it’ll be well on track to be my longest save on any game since CM01/02. There’s still so much more left to achieve too. Let’s get into it.

It began with a glamour friendly against Bastardo’s Estudiantes to open our new 14k capacity home, the Samo Stadium. I really would recommend you go and read that post, plus FMGrasshopper’s accompanying initial post in our mini-series. Both detail the more interlinked than you know nature of Argentinian and Scottish football, plus both include my Stirling side getting our arses handed to us by La Plata’s finest. It wasn’t the nicest way to open our new home.

The media’s predictions of how we’ll do this season have risen, they reckon we’ll finish 3rd behind Celtic and Rangers. While the board, of which there’s takeover rumours currently swirling, want us to qualify for Europe. I’d be delighted to qualify for Europe again. With more sensible decision making in the transfer market and a quality addition or two, could we go one better than our consecutive 2nd place finishes? Could we upset the Celtic/Rangers duopoly on the SPL title?

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Samo’s Stirling – Grand Opening of Samo Stadium

Having successfully established Stirling as one of the best clubs in Scotland on the pitch, it was time to do this off the pitch too. We’d quickly outgrown our 3,808 capacity Forthbank home, we were unable to play our home European matches there (because home European matches are a thing now for the club!), and halfway through my seventh season in charge the board sanctioned a request to have a new stadium built. Just in time for the beginning of my ninth season in charge of Stirling, we’ll move into our brand spanking new 14k capacity home (you noticed the background image change, didn’t you?).

Nobody wants to be playing in the Stirling Albion Stadium. It’s uninspiring and the game needs to get better on things like this. So I went out and bought the in-game editor purely to change the name of our new stadium. Pure mad mental? Aye, probably. But fuck it. Welcome to the Samo Stadium.

It’s customary to open a new stadium with fanfare, fireworks and a fancy friendly match. You’ll have read what happened when I took my Stirling side to Argentina to face Bastardo’s Estudiantes side to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our club forming. Having kept in touch in the years since, including his recommendation to Walter Samuel to join as my new assistant manager last season, I felt it was only right to invite Bastardo’s bastards to Stirling to crack open the champagne bottle on the side of the Samo Stadium. Oh, and to play some football too of course.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Eight

Last season we finished 2nd and qualified for the Champions League for the first time. Unbelievable. Being the filling in a Celtic and Rangers sandwich has certainly come sooner than I was expecting, which seems to be the recurring theme of this save so far. My Stirling players continue to surprise me and I’m basically just happy enough joining them all on the ride.

Season eight will be a different story to the rest so far, there’s a little bit of pressure being applied. The board expect us to qualify for the Europa League, while the preseason prediction is that we’ll finish in the top six. We’ve got a responsibility to the rest of the teams in the country now too to do well in Europe and sustain our strong coefficient. We also need to have a strong season so that there’s still a wave of positivity surrounding the club when we move into the newly built Samo Stadium (not yet called this, but it bloody will be) at the beginning of season nine.

For now though, onwards with season eight!

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Samo’s Stirling – Stirling Futures

Season Seven’s post was titled “Kicking On” because I think there comes a time in every FM save when you need to do just that. Me taking my Stirling side to the next level hasn’t been deliberate and it certainly wasn’t planned to happen this early on. I really should stop coming across as moaning about it. We’ve flown under the radar since gaining promotion to the SPL, overachieving our status and reputation to qualify for Europe in three of my four seasons in the top tier of Scottish football. This culminated in a 2nd place finish last season, taking us into the Champions League qualifiers in my eighth season. Add that to making the 1st knockout round of the Europa League last season and work starting on a brand spanking new stadium for us to move into in the summer ahead of season nine, it’s safe to say we’ve certainly kicked on.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Seven – Kicking On

We enter into my seventh season in charge of Stirling now, and our fourth season in the Scottish Premier League. Season four saw us avoid relegation, while we overachieved massively in both season five and six. Finishing 3rd and 4th saw us qualify for the Europa League. I now feel safe to say we’ve consolidated our position as an SPL side and the financial gains from domestic and continental prize and TV money across the last three seasons have helped us get the club on a sound footing. This saw us taking the first steps to improving our facilities last season. Despite the board giving me a transfer budget of £10m to splash this season, there was no way I’d be spending it. The bank balance is secure, but it’s not sustainable yet. There’s still work to do to get there, we’ve still got the lowest average attendance in the league and are limited by our current stadium of improving that.

That £10m transfer kitty was accompanied by an expectation to finish in the top half. Based on our performances over the last couple of seasons, I was confident we could achieve this and then some. We might be sitting 13th in the league salary per annum table (Celtic £41m p/a, Rangers £22m p/a, Stirling £2.7m p/a) but we’ve appeared to revel in punching above our weight so far and I can see us continuing to do so.

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FM18 Tactics: 4-4-2

I grew up watching football at a time when 4-4-2 was the standard across Scottish and English football. Beckham and Giggs on the flanks, Keane and Scholes centrally and Yorke and Cole up top are my most vivid memories of the formation. Even now, on terraces across Scottish football you’ll still hear some rage when teams aren’t playing “two up top”.

Over the last couple of weeks on the Tempo10 podcast, Mike and I have been discussing our go-to roles on FM18 and who our creative forces are in our starting line ups. I’ve spent both episodes mainly talking about the 4-4-2 I’ve put together on this year’s game so I felt it was about time I got some of this down in a blog post about it too.

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Samo’s Stirling – Season Six – Domestic Consolidation

After you’ve read all about our European exploits in the first half of the season, come back here and have a read of how we got on domestically in my sixth season in charge of Stirling Albion on FM18.

In case you missed it, we overachieved above all expectations last season and finished as the best of the rest behind Rangers and Celtic. In comparison to our league rivals, we’re absolute minnows. We spend a fraction of what they do on our players wages and we’re playing in the smallest stadium in the league. Punchin’ 👊🏽

This season, the bookies expect us to finish 11th in the SPL, giving odds of 300/1 to win the league. After our heroics last season the board would be delighted with consolidating our place in the top tier and finishing mid-table. That’ll do me nicely. Let’s see what we could do with that £100k transfer budget they gifted me.

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