After "Cups and Rivals"
After the phenomenal victories against Liverpool and Manchester United, we found ourselves overachieving in the FA Cup and successfully pushing ourselves out of relegation. A draw with Middlesbrough saw us concede another late goal to lose out on all 3 points, but we stayed out of relegation so that is all that matters. At this point, I believe that we are safe from the sack, even if we get relegated. Of course, I want to stay in the Prem if at all possible because going back to the Championship might send us into massive debt given the wage increases we have made. Also, relegation might set the expectation-bar really hard next season and make my job even harder.
It bears mentioning that last season, during the last quarter of the season, we went from battling for a top-half finish to winning the league. So it goes to show that we are very much capable of an end-of-season push, we just need the right spark of motivation to come along. Last season, we almost beat Manchester City in the semi-final of the FA Cup. That spark propelled us to the Championship title. Similar FA Cup success this season might inspire similar results.
FA Cup 5th Round - 2/18/18
Given the aforementioned success against Liverpool, I was confident of a good result going into this game against Sunderland. I don't consider them to be nearly as good a side as Liverpool, but I will be wary of them none the less. We field our full strength starting 11, as this competition is just as important to us as the league.
Overall it was a frustrating game. We took the early lead thanks to an expert finish from Hadi Sacko, and then Sunderland equalized 15 minutes before the half. From that point we dominated the game. We had more possession, more total shots, the majority of which were on target, and we limited them to no further shots on target for the rest of the game. I feel we were properly robbed this game, and I am extremely worried about our fortunes in the replay.
As if having to replay an FA Cup game that we should have won wasn't bad enough, our left-back, Enric Saborit, is out for what is probably the rest of the season after a training injury. This will be a blow, as I don't believe that Gaetano Berardi is a good starting option for left-back. So we will look to our youth team, and bring up the promising youngster Matty Downing.
League Game 29 - 2/25/18
Stoke are a team playing out of their mind right now, and find themselves in the European spots. We are still sat in 17th, and with a relatively strong end-of-season schedule we will need every result we can get. Andy Carroll has come to me with a complaint that he is not playing, and with Joel Pohjanpalo having not scored in nearly a month I decided to give him a shot. Matty Downing will be making his debut in the league.
I will admit that coming out of this game with a point is an absolute blessing, and we fully deserved to lose. Stoke were flying high and largely dominated the game. Our only breath of life during the game was in the buildup that lead to Andy Carroll's wonderful goal. We genuinely deserved to lose, but we will take the point and consider ourselves lucky.
FA Cup 5th Round Replay - 2/28/18
For the replay against Sunderland, Andy Carroll will start again, given that he scored in the Stoke game to save us a point. I honestly do not expect a good result, as in my career of playing FM, I have never gotten a favorable result from a replay. They are increasingly more difficult matches that just serve to tire and demoralize a side.
We got off to a decent enough start, maintaining pace with Sunderland, we even took the early lead from an excellent Andy Carroll header. Then Jermain Defoe scored right around the same time he did in the first game. We hit the half around even with Sunderland, but from the half on we didn't make a single shot on goal and we lost control of possession. This game quickly spiraled out of control for us, and we find ourselves knocked out of the FA Cup after failing to win at the first calling.
Looking at the End of the Season
FM fanatic and football pundit