March 2017 came with the 2nd leg of the Champions League Last 16 tie with Bayern Munich, the Scottish League Cup Final, a Scottish Cup Quarter Final and an outside chance of winning the SPL this month. There were also newgens to think about, both at my own club and across the whole FM universe.
There was a World Cup qualifying match with Scotland too in case you missed it! Let’s build this up, competition by competition.
Scottish League Cup
Immediately before the Champions League match, I had the Scottish League Cup final. This meant that all 11 players I intended to play were rested, given the need to overcome a 2 goal deficit.
Incredibly, we were well beaten by Hibs, who were 3-0 up at one point. Although I played a weakened side, we should have beaten them easily and I was furious.
As you can see there were still good players playing; Viatri, Kauppinen, Wilson, Forrest, Persson. Their commitment was shocking. There goes my last chance at a treble!
The 2nd match of the month, was 10 days before the Champions League match. With that in mind, and a mid-week clash too, I decided to play the 2nd string, which looks half strong/half weak at the moment.
I think it showed as we struggled to beat Falkirk, who were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes, and 2-1 up until the 81st minute! But beat them we did and we’ll play Hibernian in the semi-final.
In the SPL, you can see we had quite a poor month, and this is despite the fact that I played my strongest side in each of the games against Hearts, St. Mirren and Falkirk, with the cup games being the ones I rested players for. That is why it was a bad time for a bad run.
But as you can see, we’re still top of the league, our lead now 19 points. It means that we will win it if we win our next match! Six in a row will be nice
Champions League, Last 16, 2nd Leg (Home)
So this is the main event – would we be able to over-turn the 2 goal deficit we lost by last month?
I set the team out to attack, knowing that we required 3 goals. It would leave me open at the back but it was a risk I had to take.
The agony in ecstasy. We beat Bayern Munich 3-2 but go out 3-4 on aggregate. As you can see after 65 minutes it looked to be all over for us but we turned it around quickly and I was delighted to win!
The players played pretty well and there were some highlights from Forster, Matthews, Mulgrew, Tele, Forrest and especially Hoffer.
Unfortunately it means I won’t be winning a Champions League with Celtic in this version of Football Manager
When I look at the player ratings for European competitions I am very happy with the likes of Hoffer, Toussaint, Bannan, Mulgrew, Akfir and Matthews. What concerns me is that is doesn’t extend to the rest of the first team. The likes of Rogne, Wilson, Viatri (what happened?) Kauppinen, Bennet and more should be doing better.
Overall I’m pretty pleased with the ratings, especially since there are so many young players in there, either covering for injuries or playing as part of the first team squad.
Injury wise only Dale Allan is out for 4-6 weeks with a torn hamstring. Horst Henke has been called up from the U19s to back up Charlie Mulgrew in the mean-time.
The Under 19 squad have finally won the U19s League making it 6 in a row and they’ve still to play the final of the U19s cup. Here are the top performers.
We made a profit of £2.5m last month and have a profit or nearly £15m for the season so far. I think we’ll end on a high financially this season.
March is when the Celtic newgens come through.
As you can see only one player had 3 star potential or more with one more on 2.5 star. After taking this, their Determination, Work Rate and Natural Fitness attributes, their match performance against the U19s and Johan Mjallby’s (assistant manager) report I signed both Boyle and Shields, releasing the rest.
March is also the month for a lot of European newgens. I searched these extensively and at one point my shortlist looked like this.
But now that FM 2013 has been announced, I’m not sure how many I should be signing. After all, I’m unlikely to see them grow to be good footballers, like Toussaint, Moritz, McKerr, Kleanthous and co before them.
However I did sign one young Scottish striker (before the FM 2013 announcement) called Kyle Main.
I think he could be great. I just won’t have time to see that
The future of the blog
In my January 2017 post I talked about the future of this blog. At the time I mentioned a new job was making it difficult for me to find time to play and blog. Now however it looks like a second (happy) circumstance is going to stop me playing so much. All I’ll say just now is bear with me – I may not post as often or as regularly but I’ll hopefully be able to finish this season.