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[FM 23] A Sunderland Story - FINALLY Back in the Championship!


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Sunderland have finally made it back into the Championship after a mind numbing four seasons in the third tier.  Now they're back in what's possibly my favourite league in the world, where this career will begin. 

Save restrictions: 

  • This is a one club save
  •  I won't be signing anyone over the age of 24
  • Any players who have a transfer bid of their median value is sold/offered a contract
  • I can only sign players who are recommended to me 


Squad Overview



Anthony Patterson is the home-grown and undisputed #1 but Bass is a very decent back up/cup keeper. 




Dan Ballard is the big defensive signing this season and is a  top class player at this level.  Cirkin is another great player but is on borrowed time as Spurs have a £6 million (+40% sell on fee) back back clause. 




d9b5b71bd4191aafadcf8d3e2be1b73e.pngNo real standouts in this group..  Adboullah Ba looks to be a promising bargain signing however and could be someone to build the team around alongside Ballard and Jack Clarke


Attacking Trio

b5c4a58978e57e64982b0a51b0a05626.pngA wonderful mix of youth and talent here.  Ross Stewart is sadly very underrated and I will be looking for a better striker in the near future.  Amad Diallo is a Manchester United player so he'll obviously have his attributes inflated a bit but he's definitely a welcome addition.  Jack Clarke completes the core 3 who I want to build my team around. 



I'm overall happy with the squad.  There is definitely room for improvement but for the ongoing season, I'm definitely confident of meeting (and exceeding) the board and fans' expectations of avoiding relegation. 

My next post will be after I go through the pre-season and transfers that I might make.  Which might be a while as I navigate all these nice new features. :)


Edited by Sabine
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End of Pre-season; Season 1 

After a much longer time than I would like to admit, I have finally gotten through the pre-season. 

I started off with a mass culling of the absolutely crap staff that I inherited and brought in a really respectable team. 


Obvious highlight is Nicky Butt, who wouldn't be out of place in a top four Premier League team.  All of this business has ended up making my staff screen a lot more easy on the eyes than before;


In terms of transfers, I've only made one new signing so please welcome Di'Shon Bernard 


For £600k, I have bought someone who is great cover for right back and centre back since my more aging players will no way be able to keep up all season in a Championship campaign.

We've had a great pre-season in terms of friendlies, with a mix of local teams to giants of respective nations of Scotland and The Netherlands.  We played especially amazing in the Celtic game and dominated every team that was thrown at us!  This makes me really, really optimistic for the future. 


As for tactics, I'm sticking with what I know from last version of the game, and might add the "Step Up More" instruction to see if it makes any difference to how we play. 



Edited by Sabine
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Just a small addition;  I was playing the first game of the season as I was typing up the last post and well, this happened :lol: 


6-0 up at half time and it could've easily been double figures if the team were more clinical. 

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Post-Transfer Window Update

So I've made it to past the transfer window and things really couldn't have gone better! 



Nine games played, eight won, a whopping 29 goals scored and 4 conceded! 

We are massively overperforming which I can never complain about but I'm a little worried with what will happen if we immediately get promoted because there's no way in hell this team is anywhere near good enough for the Premier League! 


We completely dominated both lower league opposition in the cup also, but Fleetwood was rather annoying as we were nowhere near good enough in the first half so I made 5 changes and we brought them back down to earth. 


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I didn't bother signing anyone else on transfer deadline day but I have my eyes on Elijah Adebayo 



He's approaching the age limit however, so I might have to structure a deal whilst the window is shut but the money is so tight that I'm unsure if it'll be even possible.

Also on my big-bloody-bloke shortlist is the legendary (in FM 22, at least) Lorenzo Lucca who is truly a spectacle; 


Over 2 meters tall and built like a tank, he's my absolutely undisputed target man (heh) within the next three seasons so hopefully Ajax don't want him as much as I do. 

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January 2023 Update

To put it briefly; we're really really bloody good! 



I feel like this might be a double-edged sword because whilst we need to get promoted to be financially stable, the implications of being promoted too early could really come back to haunt the team. 


Not even the EFL Cup has been kind to us as we've been lumbered with away ties so we couldn't even generate income from that!  We do have Arsenal next round, thankfully. 


This is the financial situation, for context.  We have one of the lowest wage expenditures in the league, but that doesn't really matter when the Championship generates so little income! 

But all the complaining aside, I'm really happy with how this season is coming along and I hope we don't have a disastrous latter half of the season.  :)

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End of 2022/23 Season Update


Utter.  Dominance.

We dropped a grand total of nine points (3 draws, 1 loss) after January.  That's it.  That's the summary. :lol: 


(the last game of the season was a 3-1 win over Preston North End)

I ended up simulating most of the away games, because for some reason I enjoy playing the home games way, way more. But all in all, the squad played well, well above expectation and we're back in the Premier League for the first time in just over half a decade.


We had a very nice EFL Cup run culminating in a 5-4 aggregate loss over eventual winners but included a mental win over a full strength Arsenal side. 


Best Players



Frankly, I rotated my team more than I normally do on Football Manager, but that's because the squad was very well balanced all over the place so I was able to do so without worry.  For example, my first choice striker Ross Stewart started 31 and came off the bench for 13 games and scored 37 goals and Ellis Simms got 34 in 26(21). I could rely on either player to do the job and it really has shown.  I think that both won't be at the club next season however, as the Championship seems to be their ceiling.

My personal player of the season however is the longest serving player of the team; Lynden Gooch.  


He managed to make the right back position his own and even filled in at AMR due to unavailability and has proven that he's finally a bloody decent player! 

I have no idea how to approach next season at the moment.  I have four players leaving the squad, with Amad Diallo hopefully making his way to the club permanently and only one incoming transfer confirmed... I will probably be spending a good majority of tomorrow in the summer transfer window! 


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2023/24 Pre-Season Review

In all of my time I've ever played Football Manager, I haven't had such a frustrating or stressful transfer window.  :lol:

I lost out on so many players that I honestly lost count.  They all went to either Premier League rivals or teams in Europe and I was honestly going to give up.  Nonetheless, I've managed to make a grand total of nine signings (plus Amad Diallo on loan for another year) and sold four players who were nowhere near good enough for the Premier League, so that's made me relatively happy. 



Ross Stewart - £9.5 million to Bournemouth: I really like Ross Stewart in real life.  As a player, he's hard working, great in the air and is a fantastic bloke.  He's pretty decent in the game too, bagging 31 goals and 4 assists in 37 games last season.  I heavily considered keeping him until I got this absolutely mental bid from Bournemouth and so off he went. 

Bailey Wright - £5.5 million to Bournemouth: Now this was a no brainer and I have no idea how I pulled this off.  He was one of the rotational options last season and did a decent job, but was never going to be a Premier League player.  Couldn't have gotten rid of him quick enough. 

Luke O'Nien - £4.5 million to Millwall: Like Ross Stewart, I think Luke O'Nien is an absolutely stellar person and great role model for the club but he was never going to be nowhere near the first team so when this bid came in from a recently relegated Millwall... no chance I was turning that down.

Trai Hume - £400k to Middlesbrough: Nowhere near good enough for the team. 



Nathan Baxter - £400k from Chelsea: A massive upgrade as a cup goalkeeper than Alex Bass and will give Patterson much more of a challenge for the number one spot. A little bit of a high wage for such a role in the team, but I had to get in there fast for a bargain. 

Conor Coventry - £31k from West Ham: A bargain bin signing to prop up the bench, but is near enough guaranteed profit. 

Tom Holmes - £7.5 million from Reading: My new vice-captain and a tremendous influence for the squad.  He's the perfect centre back partner for Dan Ballard. 

Jurgen Ekkelenkamp - £8.5 million from Royal Antwerp: I will be the first person to admit that I've never heard of the guy.  But I was scouting for a top central midfielder to run the show and he popped up. With a little more pace, he could be amazing. 

Willem Geubbels - Free from AS Monaco: I have one of my scouts scouting players whose contracts are running out at the end of the season and he was one of the two that I picked up.  A decent rotation option as a winger and as Lorenzo Lucca's back up. 

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster - Free from Spurs: A decent bargain wing back option. Appears to be a lot of profit potential in him. 

LORENZO LUCCA - £3.6 million from Pisa: For a little bit of context, Lorenzo Lucca is my all-time favourite Football Manager player.  I've been playing this game for a decade now and noone has come close to being as good as he is for me. This is what he did for me last year in 6 seasons, and I doubt he'll be that good this time around, I'm still excited to have him again.

Tomás Esteves - £3.5 million from FC Porto: An excellent rotational/eventual first team option for right back.  

Edon Zhegrova - £6 million from Lille: Admittedly, I never heard of him before either but he's a technical wizard and I can potentially get a great profit from him if he ends up doing well. 


Pre-season Results: 


We had a long, looooooong pre-season with a lot of games.  This is because I wanted to experiment with a new tactical system (and take advantage of the income that you get from home friendlies :lol:

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Three more players have arrived at Sunderland with two leaving at the same time on Deadline Day. 


Aji Alese - £4 million to Troyes AC:  Alese one of Ballard's centre back partners last season but a £4 million offer from Troyes is near enough irresistible. 

Patrick Roberts - £6.75 million to Sheffield United: I looked at Roberts' report at the beginning of the season and apparently he's only a "good" Championship player.  I offered him out near deadline day and got a great offer from Sheffield United. 


Lewis Ferguson - Free: Lewis was bizarrely released by Bologna in the middle of pre-season and was recommended to me. He is a great work horse with some very nice all-round attributes.


Alan Velasco - £6 million (£5 million + £1 million after 50 appearances) from FC Dallas: On deadline day, he was offered out by his agent and I couldn't resist.  Tremendous ability and can play across the top 4 positions.  Could be a potential bargain. 


Tom McIntyre - £2.4 million from Reading: When I sold Alese, I realised that I only had 3 natural centre backs left at the club. :lol:  I didn't want to buy anyone too spectacular until I get more money into the club so I bought Tom Holmes' centre back partner from Reading.  


I also sold Josh Maja's transfer clause because he looks to be floundering in Ligue 1 with Bordeaux with no transfers in sight.  I hope I made the correct decision. 



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January 2024 Update


So, this is happening.. :lol:

We have stormed to 2nd in place with quite honestly, luck being on our side in terms of squad fitness and consistency. 


Everything seems to be going right at the moment! Unbeaten in 7 at the moment and we're cruising through the non-European teams! 


We're enjoying a decent EFL Cup run but no home games!  It's really frustrating because the home attendance revenue is pretty vital when you're not competing in europe. We probably won't make the final again as Liverpool stand in our way but maybe we can do something in the FA Cup instead. :)


As expected, Lorenzo Lucca is just sensational.  He already has his contract renewed because it had a really low minimum release fee.  Shout outs to Alan Velasco and especially Tom Holmes for being as effective as they are for us. 

I have a couple of transfers planned to really get the team to the next level as there is a glaring weakness at right back and DM positions. 

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January 2024 Transfer window 


With the upturn in fortunes, I was given extra funds to spend in the January transfer window so I decided to sell two players and upgrade them immensely with two great youngsters.


Max Aarons - £25 million from Norwich City:  I sold Gooch because he was 28 and despite being awesome last season, wasn't really good enough for the Premier League.  Rangers came in with a decent bid and I couldn't really let him miss out on the opportunity.   With the additional funds, I was brought to the attention of Max Aarons who has been between great and excellent in the last 4 or 5 iterations of the game.  I broke our long standing transfer record for him at £25 million. :)


Fabio Miretti - £20 million from Juventus: Fabio is the type of player than we build our saves around.  I couldn't believe he was available for a measly £20 million (£10 million which is installments) and is primed to become one of the best midfielders in the game.  I sold Jay Matete for £9 million to Leganes because he simply wanted to leave.  I could have probably got more for him but I didn't want to risk missing out on the sale.


Lucas Bergvall - £250k from Brommapojkarna - I was surpised to see this lad on the agent offers on deadline day.  He's a massive talent in real life and he looks very, very promising in game too.  I've loaned him out for two seasons to get some vital game time for his development.  I can't wait to see what he's like when he comes back! 

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Sunderland AFC End of 2023/24 Season



All I have to say is WOW. What an absolutely incredible first season back in the Premier League! We were inadvertently in a title race against Liverpool but we exceeded the expectations in so many ways imaginable. 

Our top player was no doubt Lorenzo Lucca who scored an eye-watering 45 league goals in his debut season. He's truly a freak of nature in the Target Forward role. 


He unsurprisingly won the Golden Boot (with Haaland in second with a previously record tying 35 goals) and the highest average rating at just under 8 per game which is INSANE. 


There is going to be a minor clear out in the coming season, players who have been complaining about game time (despite no players really lacking in it) and I won't be resigning Amad Diallo for another season as he honestly wasn't that good.

I would also love to mention that we won the domestic cup double! 


We had a decently easy run to the Carabao Cup final where we absolutely battered Man United 4-0 and a much tougher (but with more home games!) FA Cup run culminating in battering Arsenal 3-0. :)


Anyway, the board have given us a tremendous transfer budget, which I will more than likely spend all of, and combined with the income I will hopefully be getting from selling deadwood, the squad for the 2024/25 season will be very different. 



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End of Pre-Season 2024/25 Season 

It's currently the 2nd of September 2024 and after a long and gruelling pre-season transfer window, we have managed to show the footballing world that we mean business. 10 players in, 10 players out and what has been one of my favourite ever transfer windows on the Football Manager series. 

On a minor note, I really really dislike how any transfers that I made during the transfer window but not before the season changeover accounts for the previous season, so I've manually had to calculate how much I've spent and lost :lol:

Transfers out (Total £188.3 million): 


Di'Shon Bernard to AS Monaco for £17 million: He constantly complained about wanting a new contract and when I offered him one, wanted an eye-watering amount of money for a squad player.  Great fee for a very average player.

Alex Bass to Cardiff City for £275k: He was an unneeded 3rd choice goalkeeper who hadn't played a single minute of football all season. 

Willem Geubbels to Norwich City for £13.5 million: He was pretty crap in all honesty.  I kept giving him chances as an inside forward and he went through some pretty long goal scoring droughts.  Wish I could have gotten more for him to be honest. 

Conor Coventry to Sheffield United for £5 million: Great fee and profit for a very average player. 

Edon Zhegrova to Crystal Palace for £40 million (!!!): I wouldn't turn this down in a million years! He was very good in the cup runs and not bad as a rotation option in the league, but £40 million! 

Dan Neil to Vitoria for £10.75 million: A first of two home grown talents that have left the club but both because I got very good offers for them.  I can't really turn down offers that are above their transfer value anyway so off they go. 

Jack Clarke to Wolves for £56 million (!!!): He complained that he wanted to move to another club so has ended up at a club who were nearly relegated last season :lol: absolutely mental amount of money for him. 

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster to Wolves for £12.5 million: I got a transfer offer from Wolves for him for above his transfer value, so off he goes. 

Elliot Embleton to Watford for £32.5 million: I really didn't want to do this one because he is one of my favourite players for Sunderland in real life and is home grown, but £32.5 million was nearly double his transfer value! 

Players in (Total spent £182.5 million) 


Emre Tezgel from Stoke City for £14.5 million: One of the most promising English strikers out there and with a bit more strength can become a really good Target Forward.

Michael Olise from Crystal Palace for £29.5 million - I put a bid in for Olise immediately after Zhegrova's bid came in and hoped for the best.  An excellent replacement and is still quite young and more importantly English. 

Jacob Greaves from Hull City for £13.5 million + Zak Johnson: I think I might have overpaid for who is essentially a squad depth player, but he's an excellent rotation option. 

Conor Gallagher from Chelsea for £20 million: I was really shocked to see Gallagher on the transfer list and especially for so little money. He's excellent and hard working and most importantly, English! 

Yaser Asprilla from Watford for £29 million: Watford were relegated and in turn, transfer listed this brilliant wonderkid for a bargain price. 

Nehuén Pérez from Udinese for £17.75 million: I needed an upgrade for the centre back spot now that we're in the Champions League and he was recommended to me by one of my incoming staff.  

Tyrick Mitchell from Crystal Palace for £25 million: Although I do love Dennis Cirkin, he's constantly under threat of being sold for way less than his price to Spurs so I need a back up plan.  Mitchell is an excellent and will be used mainly to rotate in Premier League and domestic cup games when Cirkin is unfit. 

Liel Abada from Celtic for £16.25 million: When I was looking through my scout reports for rotation option on the wings, I came across Liel Abada and I realised that in all my years of Football Manager, I have never signed an Israeli player!  So here he is. :)

Romário Baró from FC Porto for £8.25 million: An old FM favourite, Baró isn't as good as he was in previous iterations but he's still a very decent back up and rotation option for the squad. 

Arda Güler from Fenerbache for £9 million: One of the most promising footballers in world football has translated to FM very well. I've sent him back out to Fenerbache for development and should be first team ready in two year's time.  His technical ability is an absolute dream. 


We had a very decent pre-season with some excellent wins in the mix.  We started off the Premier league absolutely smashing Everton with Lucca running the show and then a tough, well fought draw against Man City followed by a great win against Chelsea. 

I will never get used to the new Champions League format, but these are our fixtures?  I have no idea how or why I have been given these teams but hey, it's not a bad mix of teams: 



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