Welcome back to asharlandabroad and the first of three short(ish) diaries that should help give you a brief overview of my time with Belgrano on FM20.

First of allow me to apologise for the corny title, I spent a while trying to come up with something better but couldn’t so here we are.

I wanted to talk about Football Manager as a whole whilst also linking in to my Belgrano save. I feel as if a lot of people within the blogging community can struggle a bit at times with the game. We are people who inherently love the series, but also tend to push things far more than your average consumer. In my eyes the typical Football Manager players pick a team (normally in England) and spend 5-10 seasons there either completely dominating or getting so fed up with not being able to dominate that they turn it off. People who have saves beyond ten seasons are normally outliers, people who write about them are even more unique.

And sometimes I can watch FM content creators and wonder whether the content is being created for themselves or for who they think wants to watch/read/listen to what they do. The best FM content is always something that happens organically, something that is created because one person really wanted to create it.

How does this pertain to Belgrano? Well I think the issue sometimes is people wanting to create a save that stands out, or they feel they have to have a narrative or something different with their save. (Editor’s note – says the man who just started a save in South Africa).

Okay point taken, but I’m someone who tends to get caught in this trap, even when I’m not blogging. Here’s what I mean. In FM19 I had a brilliant save, it was honestly one of the best I’ve ever had on FM. I started as the manager of Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina with the big-picture aim in my head to bring Lionel Messi back to the club where he started. That never happened but I had an amazing ride that included winning two league titles, the Copa Libertadores and the Club World Cup. I built a team through the academy and at one stage fielded a team consisting entirely of academy products.

Now for FM20 I had my eye on Belgrano when the game released as I had spotted that they had been relegated. But I held off initially because “I didn’t want to do Argentina again.” Was this stupid? Quite possibly. I tried to make a couple of other saves stick (Sao Paolo and Inter Miami namely) but for whatever reason I didn’t really play them out.

Honestly I did the classic FM thing where you burn yourself out trying too hard to get into the game. I sometimes think I put too much pressure on myself to love the game as it has become such a big part of who I am in terms of hobbies over the years. Sorry this has become weirdly therapeutic let’s get back on track.

I decided when the winter update came out to just play as Belgrano, worst case scenario I had another uncompleted save. As it turns out I had an amazing time, but it was an entirely different save to Newell’s.

I won promotion at the first attempt and staggeringly won the Argentine Cup in my first season –  there’s a weird calendar situation where you start quite late in the cup when you start a new save in Argentina – and then I won the Supercopa (Community Shield) and the Superleague Cup which was a weird hybrid tournament as the league adjusted its structure. Aside from one major cup and two minor ones I won nothing else across six seasons. I never made it past the quarter-finals of the Copa Libertadores and I suffered a heart-breaking semi-final defeat in the Copa Sudamericana to rivals Talleres Cordoba.

Yet I had a blast. My team was built out of players from Colombia, Peru and Uruguay with a bunch of home-grown players (more on two of those in Part III). It was a far from perfect save but it was a lot of fun. I briefly managed Colombia towards the end of the save – again winning nothing but having a lot of fun – even though I knew international management was still extremely flawed.

I guess what I’m trying to say that it is okay to be frustrated with the game, but it’s also okay to just have a bit of fun with it and not take it too seriously. I think a lot of us tend to expect too much of both ourselves and the game which in turns leads us to get frustrated when things don’t go the way we anticipated. A lot of bloggers are very good at the game (I’m certainly not one of them) but sometimes it feels as if bloggers or YouTubers or podcasters are too desperate to get to the destination. For me the journey is the best part.

The great thing about the FM community is the sheer wealth of the ideas that you see come out. There’s far too many to list and I wouldn’t want to for fear of leaving someone out but I find it utterly fascinating to watch the different ways people approach both the game and documenting their saves.

Ultimately I really hope that we keep seeing all these wonderful and unique saves, but I hope that they come about because the creators want to, rather than for any other reason. I’m delighted to be back writing again and I hope you enjoy what’s to come.

Reminder to make sure you join Slack and, if it takes your fancy, join me at my channel, #asharlandabroad. Until next time!