Football Manager 2021 ‘The Pasty Men’ #1 – Men of the Marsh

After almost two months since my preview post of this save, I’m finally back. Christ. Thanks to the incredible work of The FMEditors Team, I can stop feigning my interest in short-term beta save ideas to pass the time and sink my teeth into the full-fat edition of Football Manager 2021. That’s right: the Level 10 database is out and – more importantly – The Pasty Men are here.

Meet at the Marsh

As soon as I received the call, I jumped straight into ‘Nobby’ – my 2002 Ford Fiesta – and drove the 2 miles west from my family home to Callington Community College and the adjacent Ginsters-sponsored Marshfield Park: my new home for the foreseeable future.

Since player-manager Sam Borthwick left The Pasty Men a couple of months ago, Callington Town had been in a bit of a slump. Desperation called as all boroughs of the Duchy trounced them weekly and it became time for chairman Shaun Earl to look for anyone who was willing to take the cursed reigns at Marshfield Park. ‘Anyone’, it seemed, includes 24-year-old Janners from across the bridge who have very minimal actual coaching qualifications but a half-decent history in management video games.

Upon stepping into the minimal home changing rooms at The Marsh, my soon-to-be assistant manager Jason Ramsay pulled me in for a gruff hug before introducing himself briskly. Jason handed me a dossier that looked as if it had been complied of notes scribbled down on the touchline during previous matches. “A bit of light reading before you meet the lads for pre-season on Saturday, ha! Once you’ve digested that – all the coaches are meeting down The Old Clink tonight for a couple of pints. We’ll properly initiate you!”

Despite all of the research I had to conduct into my future team, the anxieties I had about meeting the rest of the team lead to me putting down the dossier, chucking a jacket on and meeting Jason and the boys down the pub. Lo and behold, after a very messy evening, I woke up at home with a pounding head and a queasy feeling in my stomach. A cup of Smuggler’s Brew and a slice of toast later, I felt at least slightly ready to find out about my new squad. (If they are anything like my coaching staff, we’re in for a hell of a year…)

The Dossier

Tom Anderson – 21 – RM/CM

  • Former Forest Green Rovers youth player
  • Naturally a right-midfielder but plays best as a box-to-box midfielder
  • Amazing first touch, composure and stamina
  • A quiet lad who is currently studying marine biology at the University of Plymouth
  • Favourite TV show of all time: Top Gear
  • First-choice central midfielder

Jon Basford – 16 – AMR/WBR

  • Came through the Callington Town youth academy
  • Filling in as a backup right-winger while attending Callington Community College
  • Very quick and naturally fit
  • Enjoys going down The Fish Bar with his mates whenever he isn’t in the matchday squad
  • Lack of belief in his ability has lead to Jon considering packing in the amateur game and focusing on a different career

Jay Burke – 22 – DM/CM

  • Callington Town youth product and club captain
  • Used to come to games with his dad whenever The Pasty Men were playing at The Marsh
  • A rock at the centre of midfield, breaking up attacks and maintaining the heart of the squad
  • Works 4 days a week in the Callington Tesco stacking shelves
  • Once got very drunk at a sponsorship dinner and insulted Ginsters pasties in front of Ginsters CEO, Flor Healy

Dominic Claxton – 25 – CB

  • Only took up football this season in an attempt to make it into the pro game at the ripe age of 25
  • Half-decent centre-back but not someone who will be making the starting line-up every week
  • At 6’0″, his impressive 11 jumping reach should do a decent job at this level

As I turned the page to the next of the famed ‘Pasty Men’, my eyelids started to droop and my vision started to blur. Back to bed for a bit I think. I’ll check up on the rest of the squad later, I’m sure.

The Master Plan

Our journey to the big-time

Of course, the ideal plan is to eventually become a dominant force in world football, however the fact that it will take at least 10 promotions before Callington even reach the pinnacle of English football means that ‘the dream’ could be very far away. As I stated in my previous post, the initial aim is for The Pasty Men to find their feet as the most successful Cornish club. Truro City – currently in The Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South – are 4 promotions away. Luckily, the local press believe that Callington have a very high chance of finishing top of the South West Peninsula League Premier Division West this season. Hey – another 3 consecutive promotions after that and we could be facing The White Tigers one-on-one!

Initial Tactics

My usual fare when managing a team far lower down the football pyramid is to go for a late-1990s Manchester United-style counter-attacking 4-4-2, however I wanted to try and be more adaptive to the limitations of Callington and play to the strengths of the players already at the club (in addition to the new arrivals). Although we were to play a 4-2-3-1 instead of a 4-4-2, the aim was still to counter-attack and hit the opponent quickly on the break with some aggressive counter-pressing and fast movement. Against the likes of 42 year-old pub landlords playing Sunday league, the might of my frontline should run rampant.

Pre-season went fairly successfully: creditable draws against decent local teams such as Plymouth Parkway and Weymouth were real highlights while we slowly learned how to keep clean sheets towards the end of August.

To add to the good news, the board agreed to fund a coaching course for me to attend whenever I’m not teaching in my day job or coaching The Pasty Men, making me potentially one of the best coaches in the South West Peninsula Premier Division West…

Next time in ‘The Pasty Men’, we take on our local rivals Launceston in the opening match of the South West Peninsula Premier Division West; face Snodland town in the first qualifying round of the FA Vase; and we see how far we can take The Pasty Men in this first half of the season.

As always, thanks for sticking by and giving this a read.

P.S. If you’d read my prelude you may have noticed a slightly different logo for Callington Town! I decided to give the club crest a fresh, modern re-brand to make the quality-of-life while playing the game that little bit better. It will be a lot nicer seeing the clean lines of my new logo 20 seasons into the game!

Football Manager 2020 ‘The Pilgrimage’ #1 – Welcome Home (to Home Park)

If you missed my introduction to this series, you can find it here:

My first FM20 save: ‘The Pilgrimage’

“Morning gaffer,” cried the unmistakable cockney/Devonian hybrid accent of Gary Sawyer, my club captain, as I walked into my brand new office in the depths of the renovated Mayflower Stand. Gaz had been a long-serving soldier of many past Argyle regimes, and I saw it fit for a player of his experience and understanding of what it is to play in the green and white to be able to pass this on to some of the newer and younger lads less familiar with this in the dressing room.

“Good morning Gary, and thank you for coming in for this meeting. I thought it would be useful to give you the low-down of what I and the board of directors expect from us this year, which you can then pass on to the rest of the squad.”

“Firstly, as you know I am RPW FM and I have been a life-long Argyle fan like yourself. I am 22 years old and despite being young and inexperienced, I know this club inside-out and know what we need to do together to bring Argyle back to where they belong. In terms of qualifications, I hold the Continental A License and do plan on pursuing the Pro License when Simon [Hallett, chairman] gives me the opportunity to. I’d say that my strengths can be found in a number of areas, in particular coaching defending and nurturing and developing youth. I want you and the lads to know that you can come to me with anything, because us being cohesive as a team – staff and players – is what will make Plymouth Argyle Football Club successful again.”

“In terms of tactics, I am very much a fan of the ‘score more goals than them’ mentality; I love attacking, entertaining football and equally it is exactly what the board want to see happening during my time at this club. Regarding our targets this season, I know that you should not have been relegated last season. A team with that many star players like Graham [Carey] and Ruben [Lameiras] should not have gone down. I won’t stand for players ‘downing tools’ like a lot of you did. We need to make our way back up the pyramid and fast: therefore, the board of directors and I expect us to at least qualify for the play-offs this season. If we can supplement this with a couple of decent money-spinning league cup and FA cup runs we’ll be in a fantastic place for achieving our targets.”

At least they aren’t expecting anything from the Mickey Mouse cup (Checkatrade Trophy)

“Thanks for letting me know, boss,” Gary replied, before pulling a quizzical face and asking, “Just a quick question though, how come I saw some familiar looking cars in the car park this morning? I could have sworn one of them was Ákos’s and that Range Rover looked just like Lilian’s?”

A wry smile appeared on my face upon hearing the question. “Well, I grew up adoring the teams you used to play with when Argyle were back in The Championship. While you’re still playing, a lot of your former teammates are starting to pursue their own careers after hanging up their boots and so I brought a few in to form my backroom staff! I’m sure you’ll see the familiar faces of Lilian, Ákos, Rory, Krisztián, Romain, Nick and Lee around Home Park over the next couple of days – they all seemed just as excited as me to get started!”

“Cheers boss, it will be great to see them again!” he replied, “I’ll go and speak to the lads now, thanks again for taking the time to let us know your plans for this season. I’ll see you in training later!” With that, he shut the door to my office and walked back over the road to the Life Centre.

My Backroom Staff

Assistant Manager – Lilian Nalis

I believe it was the great B.A. Billy Gunn entrance theme that said ‘I’m an AssMan’, of course, referring to the second most important role behind the scenes at a football club, the assistant manager. After looking through a long list of Argyle legends, I had to go for the one man who had experience in this role while also being a hypnotising midfield metronome in his playing days.

Director of Football – Paul Sturrock

Despite being out of the managerial game since 2015, I had to bring back one of Argyle’s most successful former managers as a DoF to mentor me through my first years as a manager. While I will take control over the majority of club responsibilities, ‘Luggy’ will ease me through the more tedious jobs such as staff contracts, managing scouting etc.

Head of Youth Development – Mickey Evans

The first of two manual additions to FM20’s database is ‘Trigger’ himself, Mickey Evans. One of my aims in this save is to bring the local lads through, like Mickey himself, and link the emerging first team with the local community. ‘Trigger’ embodies all of these things and he justifiably becomes my HoYD.

First Team Coach – Ákos Buzsáky

I had to, didn’t I! The former Hungarian international and man that I once (and still) idolised joins the RPWFM background team as a coach, after an unsuccessful first stint in management in the third division of his native Hungary. Hopefully Ákos will be able to find better luck back home at Home Park, especially coaching with a former teammate in…

First Team Coach – Rory Fallon

…former New Zealand international, Rory Fallon! With this being his second stint as a coach (after a short time as player/coach for Truro City), Rory leaves behind his fledgling ice cream business to get back into the game that he truly loves.

First Team Goalkeeping Coach and First Team Fitness Coach – Rhys Wilmot and Chris Neville

Completing the ‘inner circle’ of my coaching team is Rhys Wilmot, one of the remaining members of staff from the previous Argyle regime and Chris Neville, a former England fitness coach.

Other notable staff members:

  • Chief Scout – David Friio (former Argyle midfielder and Forest, Man U and St Etienne scout)
  • U23 Manager – Kevin Nancekivell (the only other remaining member of Argyle staff before my time)
  • U23 Assistant Manager – Krisztián Timár (former Argyle defender and Hungary international)
  • U23 Goalkeeping Coach – Romain Larrieu (former Argyle goalkeeper and President of the the Argyle Fan’s Trust)
  • U18 Manager – Nick Chadwick (former Argyle ‘striker’ and former Wigan U18 manager)
  • U18 Coach – Lee Hodges (former Argyle utility man and former Truro City manager)

Thank you for reading – next time, the squad details.