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  • FM Patrick

"Buffalo Soldiers" - Vaya Con Dios, FM23

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

3rd May, 2023




"Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival..." - Bob Marley

Those words were uttered by the legendary Bob Marley, on the track 'Buffalo Soldier'. That song is about young Africans, stolen from their home and forced to fight for America. While it would be disingenuous to compare my time in a football simulation game to the plights of the real Buffalo Soldiers, the words resonate nicely with the state of our time in Compostela. In a league featuring the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, we're fighting to survive. Every game feels like a battle, and every point feels crucial.

I would like to say the first half of our season has been one of ups and downs, but a more genuine statement would be it's been mostly downs with some glimmers of hope. To prepare for the step up to La Liga, I brought in ten players, which I chronicled over on twitter. We've just reached the winter break in game, essentially the halfway point of the season, which felt the right time to take a step back and have a look at how things are going.


A Tycoon Takeover...?

You can imagine my excitement when I got this inbox message halfway through our pre-season preparations...

The interest of investors in our plucky Galician club shows how far they've come in a couple of years. The club's reputation has seen a dramatic increase since we've made it to La Liga. A Tycoon takeover could change the save dramatically, shooting us from provincial obscurity to European stardom. I was picturing a new stadium, state of the art facilities and a board vision switch to sign more Japanese players. Sadly, it wasn't to be. Katsumi Gondō came to an impasse with the board, and has decided his funds would be better spent elsewhere. I was disappointed, but there was no time for yearning. We had a relegation battle on our hands.


The Season So Far

As of December 16th 2026, newly promoted SD Compostela occupy 15th place in La Liga. The main point to make is that despite our struggles we aren't bottom, and we aren't in the relegation zone. If my calculations are correct, we're on track to gain 35.8 points by the end of the season, falling just short of our target of 40. We enter the winter break off the back of 3 disappointing losses to Levante, Atletico and a local derby with Celta Vigo - all of them lost by just one goal.

Firstly, I have to say is that this has easily been my favourite season of this save and of Football Manager in recent memory. With every point counting for so much, and goals so hard to come by, I'm celebrating every moment with a fervour I just haven't had while climbing up the leagues.

Secondly, I have to say that we actually haven't been that bad. We've won 5 games, and held Barcelona to a draw at Camp Nou courtesy of our 3-5-2 away-game tactic. Speaking of celebrating moments, I almost fell out of my chair when Felix Afena-Gyan scored in the 94th minute of that game, only to be dejected as it was ruled out for a close offside. I've found myself enjoying our more defensive set-up, relishing the prospect of spoiling the tiki-taka approach of other teams.

While we don't look too bad in general, we definitely feel like a team low on confidence. Five goals have been conceded from penalties, robbing us of crucial points in some games - notably the 1-0 losses to Mallorca and Bilbao, which still hurt as I write about them. We just reek of a relegation threatened team, missing multiple clear-cut chances that more in-form teams would have put away. Still though, I'm confident in our systems and in our ability, as we're only narrowly losing games. This season feels like Morale Manager 2023 more than any other, and keeping high spirits could be the difference in surviving the drop.


The New Boys

Felix Afena-Gyan joined for €3.5M from Cremonese, a record signing for the save.

To avoid clogging this post up with screenshots, I uploaded all the attributes of the new signings over on Twitter, but I want to mention how they've been getting on. In terms of outgoings, we sadly lost Jose Lara and Damian Canedo for this season. I'd unwisely promised Lara game time following an injury, and even though he played every minute of every game possible he still wasn't happy (note to SI: promises are completely broken) and as a team leader I couldn't have him unsettling the team. He left to CD Lugo for €300k. Damian Canedo has been a regular feature for us, but he just isn't good enough to play in La Liga. He got upset about the signing of Markus Nxumalo, and after he skipped a training session I couldn't justify having him involved in the squad any longer. That kind of behaviour is unacceptable, esepcially for a club captain. He's gone out on loan to Mirandes for the season, and I'll be looking to move him on as soon as possible. Almost every player who is 18+ but didn't fit into the 25 man registered squad has been sent on loan, but sadly talented Angolan winger Pedro Tchiaka was scooped up for Spurs when they triggered his €550k release clause. Anyway, on to the new signings.

Felix Afena-Gyan is our version of Darwin Nunez. Blisteringly quick, he loves nicking the ball high up the pitch and he's frequently found by searching long balls - he just can't find the composure to put them away. if I see him miss another one-on-one when he's been put through on goal I'm going to tear my hair out. I'm putting it down to a bedding in period in a new country and the team as a whole underperforming. I'm confident he can be the difference maker in turning the tide for us, but I love him either way.

Omar Faraj was signed alongside Afena-Gyan, and despite being well accustomed to Spanish football he hasn't delivered as of yet. His only two goals have come in a Copa Del Rey victory over Fuenlabrada, but in his defence he's been played as a substitute behind Peru Ruiz so hasn't had many chances to impress as of yet. I'm still confident he has what it takes and the second half of the season could see his breakthrough. His countryman Pontus Dahlberg has been slightly better, and despite some notably glaring mistakes has been relatively solid for us.

Markus Nxumalo has been okay, but has also struggled to adjust to life in Spain after his €650k move from Orlando Pirates. He's featuring regularly for South Africa, and with the guidance of the more experienced Loïc Mbe Soh should develop into a very solid player for the club. I see our long-term back line as involving him and Erick Silva especially after Silva turned down the likes of AC and Inter Milan to sign a new contract with us. That show of loyalty earned him the club captaincy following the departure of Damian Canedo.

The revelation signing so far for me has been the €90k acquisition of Þórir Jóhann Helgason. Kamel Badaoui is first choice as the Mezzala in our 4-3-3, but Helgason is in serious contention to take the starting spot. With an average rating of 6.81, he seems unphased by the pressure of playing at a higher level and is consistent in his forward surging to join the attack. I don't think he'll improve much at 25, but he's a good depth option and one I'm increasingly fond of. Alongside him, Omari Hutchinson is picking up some game time but I'm yet to decide whether I prefer him as a Mezzala or an Inverted Winger. He hasn't set off any fireworks, but he looks to be developing nicely.


The Tactics

How we lined up in a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid.

We've used two formations so far - our 4-3-3, and a 3-5-2 which was adapted from last season's 3-4-3 to provide more defensive solidity. The issue is that neither one seems to be a perfect fit. The 4-3-3 is the best way for us to score goals, but leads to us conceding more. The 3-5-2 has the inverse problem. It's difficult to tell if that's purely a tactical issue or whether it's down to a team that's down on it's luck struggling to finish chances and see out games.

For the second half of the season, I'll be trying a couple of switches to solve the issues we're facing. The 4-3-3 will remain the same, but I'll be experimenting with playing a more direct passing approach which should hopefully help get the best out of Afena-Gyan. With the 3-5-2, I am considering switching to a low block to maximize our counter-attacking prospects. Currently, we play a high press in that system in an effort to disrupt the better teams who like to pass it round the back, but I think dropping off a bit could see us open up more space in behind. The mid-season break is a good opportunity to review our performances and see how I could start to swing some results in our favour.


Going Forward

It's pretty clear to me that we have a tough battle ahead of us. Perhaps bringing in some more experienced players could help, and I'll be keeping an eye out in the January window for any elder statesmen who could help keep us afloat. That said, I'm happy with the new signings and the transfer policy has always favoured younger players - I see no reason to change something that has worked so far. While we've struggled, there are some promising signs and results that lead me to believe we might just scrape survival. However, I won't be too disappointed if we don't. It's clear that we're very small fish in a very big pond, playing against some of the best footballers in the world. I'm impressed that we aren't bottom of the table at this point (famous last words...)

I'm eagerly anticipating our second round Copa Del Rey fixture, pitting us against FM Grasshopper's chosen club AD Ceuta. The cup fixtures have provided a breath of fresh air in an otherwise poor season - it's refreshing to see us actually scoring goals. The fixture list after the break is fair, and all we need is a couple of results to shift the tides and drag us up the table. It could (and probably will) go right down to the wire, with our final game being against local rivals Celta Vigo. I hope the players are up for the occasion.

From this point on, I'll try to make sure each season receives at least two updates - the mid-season break provides a nice stopping point for a review. I'm holding off on setting our updated save goals until we finish this season - they could vary wildly depending on where we end up.

As always, thanks for reading.


Patrick - FM Bhikkhu

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