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Aran Dhillon

My Soccer Manager experience

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After being introduced to Soccer Manager back in September 2008, taking over Valencia (in game world: lacky’s European Championship – having already been relegated into Division 2 in season 7) then 335 games later having won the Cup 2 times, League Title 4 times and in my final full season winning the coveted SMFA Champions Cup along with the SMFA Super Cup shortly after. I decided that after 3 years with Valencia it was time to find a new challenge.

So then began my next chapter with Inter Milan in October 2010 in season 3 (in game world: Italian Championship 834). So in my first season with them (35 games) I had done an unprecedented treble. Winning the League Title, Cup & Shield. What a first season that was. But then it dawned soon after that this team had already peaked. It would take a massive rebuilding job to freshen the squad for both short and long term success. So after thinking long and hard, I decided to part ways with the Italian club.

The new era:

After 5 long years of jumping between various other clubs with no long term commitments. In September 2016 while on holiday, a golden opportunity had come up (in game world: English Championship 33247). A fresh new game world, where I had the chance to take over the club I support and be the first ever manager in Liverpool and even the game world itself. And so the new journey had begun.

Season 1:

With the Liverpool squad consisting of players in the 2016/2017 squad in real life. I knew that instant success would be extremely difficult. Especially with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester UTD and Tottenham. My aim was to finish in the top 4 and qualify for the SMFA Champions Cup. Even though I wasn’t a gold manager, the finances on offer would help bloster the squad in future seasons to come. But I knew that this current crop of players had massive potential to be world class with the likes of Sadio Mane & Philippe Coutinho.

So during the pre-season friendly matches, it was very clear that the defence had to be improved as I was simply not keeping enough clean sheets. And so I signed left back David Alaba from Bayern Munich for a fee of around £36m. As relying on Alberto Moreno and James Milner was not good enough, though with that being said the latter not being a bad makeshift LB or RB. In addition to that my main centre back pairing was Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip, this had to be addressed to strengthen the heart of the defence. So I was astonished to see that David Luiz was a free agent and so I was able to snap him up for £18m. A snip for a defender who was 29 years old, 92 rated and good with both feet. Hence fitting in nicely with my attacking philosophy.

And so as the season went on, I was doing better than what I thought I would. I was hovering in the top 4 places, but not quite breaking into the top 2 of Chelsea and Manchester City as their squads were much superior to mine. However during the mid part of the season, I had lost Sadio Mane to a long term knee injury keeping him out for 8 weeks. So as a result my attacking threat had suffered and I was relying on my defence to get me through games. But once Sadio Mane was back, I had somehow managed to reach the Semi Final of both the English Championship Cup & Shield. But during this road to Dortmund (the host city for the Finals), I had prioritised the cup competitions over the league matches as it was a good chance of silverware that I did not expect to be in a position in winning. Especially in my first season.

And so the semi Final had arrived in the very eagerly anticipated clash of runaway league leaders Chelsea against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. But it was Chelsea who drew first blood in the first half with Eden Hazard striking to make it 1-0 before half time. I didn’t plan on making any substitutions for the second half as I had faith that my players could at least create on opportunity to equalise in the second half, which they did in the 77th minute. Sadio Mane had played a one-two with Jordan Henderson down the left hand side and the winger had floated the ball with his left foot into the path of Roberto Firmino to head home to stun Stamford Bridge, with the home side still dominating the ball throughout the second half.

And so with the scores being level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, penalty shoot out loomed and Simon Mignolet had saved the decisive spot kick from Paul Pogba to send Liverpool to Dortmund for the showpiece match against another heavyweight Manchester City.

But after strange developments at Old Trafford, the Manchester UTD manager had suddenly decided to part ways with the Red Devils. I had soon realised that UTD’s transitional period of 7 days had passed and one of, if not the best Goal Keeper in the world in David De Gea was available for transfer. I knew I had to act fast. So I submitted a bid of £40m and after 24 hours secured the services of the Spanish shot stopper. But this signing had also come at a cost as De Gea was cup tied for both cup competitions and could only play the league matches. So as a result I needed to raise further cash to keep the club in healthy shape and decided to move Mignolet on as he provided more financial value in his sell on fee than 39 year old Alex Manninger.

And it cost me a place in Dortmund again in the form of the Shield Semi Final, as I had shockingly lost 1-0 at the Liberty stadium.

So it was all eyes on Dortmund. Manchester City had drew first blood through Danny Welbeck. But 6 minutes after, Roberto Firmino had received a pass from Joel Matip and opened his body up to side foot into the far corner to level it at 1-1. Then on the stroke of half time, Joel Matip had somehow managed to find himself on the edge of the box and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner to put Liverpool into the lead for the first time.

So going into the break was perfect, as there isn’t a better time to go in front in a game especially on the stroke of half time. More of the same was the message.

But Danny Welbeck had struck again to level the scores at 2-2 shortly after the break.

But then was the match winning moment. Coutinho had been brought down on the left hand side of the box for a free kick in the 80th minute. Philippe Coutinho had then whipped in a cross with captain David Luiz thundering a header into the back of the net, making it 3-2 to allow captain Jordan Henderson to lift the trophy. But a special mention has to go to vertran goal keeper Alex Manninger, who had his best and first game for Liverpool. Tipping shots onto the post on multiple occasions.


And so back our focus turned to the league, with David De Gea’s performances pretty much cementing 3rd place in the league. Also I justified spending around £94m on my defence having conceded the fewest goals in the whole league with only 20 goals being shipped. However with no further additions being made to the rest of the squad (with more players being moved on to raise funds), my attack was not up to scratch with the likes of Chelsea, City, UTD, Arsenal and Spurs. With scoring only 80 goals. The fewest out of the top clubs. But all in all a very good season to kick start what I hope to be dynasty of success.



Season 2:

After the highs of last season, this season did not quite live up to the expectations set in season 1. As we ended up 3rd again, though manage to score 7 more goals but also conceding 4 more in the process, so only 2 points more from last season. The curtain raiser of the season was the Charity Shield Final against League Champions Chelsea in the Luzhniki Stadium (with Moscow being the host city for the Cup Finals). But what I didn’t know was that this set the tone for the rest of the season as we ended up losing on penalties. We did however have good run in both the cup competitions, reaching the English Championship Cup Semi Final against Manchester City at the Etihad, but with first half goals from Angel Di Maria & Diego Costa sending the Citizens through to the Final and who ended up becoming eventual Champions. On the other hand we had reached the Final of the English Championship Shield in Moscow. But again we ended up losing to Chelsea once again. With the Malaysian manager winning 2-0 and also winning the League Title once again.


The main highlight which got the Anfield club fans excited for season 3 was things off the pitch in the form of transfers. Firstly was the signing of the Chilean ace Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal for £34.2m. With the forward becoming increasingly frustrated with the club’s failure to challenge for honours along with the manager having left Arsenal leaving them unmanaged. Pictured on route for his medical at Liverpool, one of the reporters had managed to get a quick word in:

Reporter: “So Alexis, how does it feel to of signed from Liverpool?” Alexis Sanchez: “I’m very glad the transfer went through and I can’t wait to start working with the boss, as his attacking play suits my playing style. I can’t wait to get started.”


This was a big signing in many aspects, as this allowed me to move Coutinho from the front 3 (as I play a 4-3-3 formation) and play him in the number 8 in a 3 man midfield. Therefore allowing Alexis to join Sadio Mane & Roberto Firmino in the attack.

However our transfer record signing was about to be broken again. For me this was a really hard decision, as Roberto Firmino had led my attack for Season 1 & Season 2. But historically in my previous jobs at Valencia & Inter Milan, I’ve always used a target man to spear head my attack such as Fernando Torres (Valencia) and Diego Milito (Inter Milan). Unfortunately as good as Firmino is, he doesn’t quite fill that role. So I knew exactly who I’d turn to. A player who fits that role perfectly, young, scores with his head, both feed and overall one of the best strikers in Europe. Harry Kane. Who I managed to sign from Tottenham (pictured in Melwood below) for a club record of £41m. In addition to that Kyle Walker followed suit for a fee of £15.9m, upgrading my RB position from Nathaniel Clyne. So much to look forward to in season 3.


Season 3:

There was air of justified excitement at Anfield. Rightly so with the very strong signings made by me. Again my objective for this season was to finish in the top 4 again and try and break into that top 2, along with bringing silverware back to the club. The first thing I done was sign midfielders Oxlade Chamberlain (£12m from Juventus) & Nemanja Matic (£24.4m plus James Milner from Sevilla). As I needed to strengthen my midfield DM position, as I had to call time on Jordan Henderson’s time at the club towards the back end of last season. As the rebuilding process was still at work. He has been an excellent servant to the club. So with his departure to Leicester City for £20m. I decided to give the captaincy to David Luiz.


While finishing 3rd place yet again. This season was still a remarkable progress, as we ended up score a league highest 113 goals and conceded the 2nd joint lowest amount with Manchester City.


Harry Kane below having a fantastic debut season with Liverpool scorind 25 goals in 23 appearences. Fantasitc record. Aided with Alexis Sanchez’z 21 goals in his debut season as well.


What even made this league campaign even more impressive was the amount of assists provided with the whole front 3 plus Philippe Coutinho. What an attacking threat Liverpool have been this season in the league.


But one of my main objectives of bringing silverware back to Anfield came true, as yet another surging cup run saw Liverpool touch down in Athens for the English Championship Cup Final against Crystal Palace.

But we triumphed again in the Final. Running out 4-1 winners with Harry Kane 2, Adam Lallana and David Luiz (again on target in the Cup Final) getting on the scoresheet to win the Cup for the 2nd time. With new captain David Luiz getting his hands on the trophy. What a season it was.


Season 4:

The highs of last season quickly followed with another trophy to the collection. The Charity Shield. With Liverpool beating rivals Chelsea 3-0 at Wembley to win the first trophy of the season. Though the Chelsea manager had played a reserve team in the curtain raiser of the season.

Shortly after, I decided to move on Joel Matip in order to raise funds to sign star CB Leonardo Bonucci from AC Milan for £29.5m plus Mamadou Sakho from AC Milan. Though this didn’t seem to be a good fit at all as this resulted in some dressing room bust ups as well as not keeping enough clean sheets. So shortly after his transfer ban was finished. I decided to get rid of him for £45m.


So with the Italian CB gone, I had already at the back of my mind identified my next target. The colossus Virgil van Dijk. Despite only being 91 rated and 27 years old. Argubaly one of the best if not the best defenders in the world (currently now in December 2018 real life).What made this transfer even better was that I signed him for only £14m from PSV, what a bargain buy for a player who will surely be at least 93 rated soon.


So looking at the table below, we again got in triple digits for amount of goals scored. However we condeded the most goals in the top 4. Mainly due to the earlier issues of Leonardo Bonucci. But there was definite improvement here as we finally broke into the top 2. With Manchester City having off the field issues, which then resulted in their manager leaving the club.


Again this proved to be another fantastic season for leading scorer Harry Kane, 33 goals in 33 appearances. Absolutely astonishing. With Coutinho & Alexis Sanchez both contributing on the goal scoring front.


But this happened to be Coutinho’s best ever season in the assists chart with him bagging 19 assists with Alexis at 13. Philippe Coutinho was flourishing in the no. 8 role.


Season 5:

After another season of progression. This was the time to really kick on and to really challenge for that League Title and stop the Malaysian winning the League Title for the 5th time in a row with Chelsea. But not only that, I wanted to be strong on all fronts which meant that I needed to not only strengthen the main starting 11 but the whole squad. So I was able to make the below signings:

Salah for £30m from Bournemouth

Dzeko for £10.7m from Roma

Di Maria for £27.4m from PSG

Fabinho for £24m from Monaco

Varane from Chelsea. A kind gesture from the Malaysian Chelsea manager before his departure.

The key players here were Salah, Fabinho & Varane. Going forward long term Salah will be replacing Alexis Sanchez on the wing as Alexis is now 30 years old. The same goes for Fabinho replacing Matic long term. In addition to that Varane will now partner Virgil in the heart of the defence and a centre back pairing that will hopefully last for many years to come.


Unfortunately I came short again this season. So finished second again. But only conceded 21 goals. Just one goal more from my previous best back in season 1. However we didn’t score as many goals as the two previous seasons. But this also showed that I was finally starting to get the balance of both my attack and defence and would hopefully put Liverpool in good stead for season 6 to finally land that coveted League Title. Unfortunatly I couldn’t sustain a good cup run in the Shield & Cup. But another high point was Philippe Coutinho once again smashing his previous assists record from the season before to finish on 24 assists. Of course with Mo Salah in his debut season netting 16 goals. A good foundation to build on.


But I need to do a special mention to the Chelsea manager. He’s from Malaysia but he went by the name of Jose Mourinho.. As he decided to call an end on his time at Chelsea after 5 League Titles in a row, including 3 invincible seasons, 2 Shield cup wins and one Charity Shield. But him winning the SMFA Champions Cup was the pinnacle of his managerial career. Especially with him beating Manchester City in an all English SMFA Champions Cup Final. Then shortly winning the Super Cup after. He managed Chelsea for 242 games. However him allowing Varane to join us prior to his departure from Chelsea was a very nice gesture of goodwill from him. Without a doubt one of the best managers I have ever faced.

Season 6:

The unprecedented treble



Only once before had I managed to achieve the treble. Back in 2011 when I managed Inter Milan in Italian Championship 834.

Change in formation:

After the first 4 games of the season, with 3 wins and 1 draw against Barnet (2-2). It dawned on me that I needed to change something to pick up wins and not drop points against tricky teams that are managed such as Barnet (Andy Barnett), Morecambe (BAM BAM BIGELOW), Aston Villa (mwebe george) & Accrington Stanley (malcolm adkins). Along with the top 6 teams as well.

So then I figured out that I needed to change my formation to somehow solidify my defence and still be in a position to keep my front 3 on the pitch in good positions as well. So from a standard 4-3-3 formation, I switched to a 4-3-3 wingers formation.

Minimum transfer activity:


I usually do my transfer business at the end of the previous season/before the start of the new season. But in this instance after my right backs Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold picked up injuries around the middle/latter end of the season, this prompted me to re-sign James Milner due to his versatility. Then I also noticed that Kompany was available for only £7.1m. So I needed to get this deal done, so I can add extra depth to my defence.

Player stats:

After winning the two Cups (winning the English Championship Cup for a 3rd time, the most of any other club). The next task was simple, win the treble. So after experiencing my first and back to back defeats to Chelsea & Tottenham with around 13 games to go. This definitely dented my title charge, as it put Arsenal (Thomas Shelby) in the driving seat by being top of the table. However it was only by one point plus a significantly higher goal difference. But as I had predicated, my final few games were against middle to relegation level teams, whereas Arsenal had Barnet, Chelsea and Tottenham in a row. But what I didn’t foresee was Arsenal losing all three of those games. What also made this sweet was that I beat Arsenal 3 times in the season, twice in the League and in the Shield Final. An aggregate win of 6-0.

So with this pretty much was confirming to me that I had finally brought the League Title to Anfield. So I used this opportunity to play youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold & Joe Gomez for the remaining games to give them that little bit more experience playing Division 1 football. But what did put a slight dampener on the season was that I couldn’t achieve a “invincible” season like the former Malaysian Chelsea manager. But having only lost 2 games in a 38 league game season is still extremely impressive. But I finally ended the Chelsea domination in the League:


An incredible season with a feat (treble) that will very very likely never be matched in this game world (English Championship 33247). But I experience the same feeling as I did when I achieved this feat with Inter Milan. I peaked with this Liverpool team. As I knew another rebuilding process (squad players) needed to get underway with the likes of ageing vice captain David Luiz reaching high concerns. But what a way to send David Luiz off. A fantastic servant to the club and who also scored in two English Championship Cup Finals and winning them both. So with that I allowed him to join Everton for £5.8m. Yes although they are huge rivals across Stanley Park, David Luiz has earned the right to join any club of his choice and stay in the League. What a career at Liverpool FC he has had…


Other players following suit out the door was Angel Di Maria, again a good servant to the club during his spell here. But again with his concerns regarding a lack of games being completely understandable. But at the same time, a front 3 of Salah, Kane & Mane would be extremely hard to break. But he definitely served his purpose in our treble winning season. So with that I allowed him to sign for rivals Arsenal for £15.8m. But there was a twist. Arsenal manager Thomas Shelby messaged me after his defeat against Tottenham to confirm that he would be leaving Arsenal at the end of the season. As well as that he wanted to know if I was keen on signing any of his players prior to his departure. There was one name that sprung to mind….. Kevin De Bruyne. But I need to raise in excess of £47m to land him so the sales of David Luiz & Di Maria helped (on top of the £20m I had already). I shortly sold Steven N’Zonzi soon after for £10m.


But what an amazing season and journey it has been. Winning this unprecedented treble in my final season here at Liverpool, which for me eclipses the treble I achieved with Inter Milan in Italian Championship 834 in Season 2. Due to the top managers and clubs I was up against.

The lure of Real Madrid

For me I’ve taken Liverpool to the very top and I would like to leave at the top. But this isn’t the end for me, as after hugely successful managerial stints at Valencia, Inter Milan and now Liverpool. The time has come for me to finally manage the biggest club in the world and the club I’ve always dreamed of managing since I joined Soccer Manager in September 2008……….Real Madrid CF (Spanish Championship 29959). Especially with this being a brand new game world and for me to be the first ever manager here at Real Madrid (with this being the Real Madrid team at the end of the 2018/2019 season in real life). Going forward I have also purchased the Gold member subscription so hopefully this will now give me a greater chance of winning that coveted SMFA Champions Cup, the pinnacle of club football in Soccer Manager. But this will officially be the last ever club I’ll manage on Soccer Manager. So one day eventually when the time comes for me to stop playing this game, I will bow out with the biggest club in world football. Hopefully by that time I would have built a dynasty and legacy and long may that continue…..

Here’s to me enjoying more glory and all that is left to say is…………….Hala Madrid!!!

Image result for real madrid logo 3d

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This is a great write up pal, I'm helping a friend recruit top managers to a new game world that will start on 27th May. There's also a Facebook group for the competitive and fun community! It's for clubs in England across 5 divisions. You can join us on Facebook, just type Excel Sports SM in the search bar and we should be the only group you'll find! 

Can't wait for your response bud


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