FM23 - The Wanderer


Aug 17, 2022
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CHAPTER 1: And So The Adventure Begins

As an eight year veteran of Football Manager, I felt it was time to finally start sharing my exploits on the game with the world. First I tried making a YouTube series, but my laptop is an old piece of garbage that cannot run the match engine and OBS at the same time. After reading through some brilliant saves for hours on end, I realised that posting my stories here would be an even better option.

For my first thread, how about the biggest journeyman save I’ve ever done: a backpacker, walking from country to country taking up managerial roles in the most unlikely places. Here are the rules:

  1. Europe, Asia and Africa only (thanks to DaveTheEditor for fleshing out these continents).
  2. I must start the game with no badges and Sunday League reputation.
  3. If I win every possible trophy in a nation or get sacked, I have to move to a club in a bordering country.
  4. The aim is to win as much as I can and have the most interesting career possible, as well as win the Champions League in Africa, Asia and Europe before I retire.

Welcome to the world of the Wanderer.

First of all, a quick disclaimer that I used my real name as my manager profile, as I started the save before deciding to make a story out of it. As such, I’ll avoid showing my name as much as I can. Terrible foresight on my part, I know.

The random country I drew to begin the save in was Benin, a country I can’t say I’ve ever managed in before. The team I’m taking control of is Panthères FC - which is French for Panthers FC - and I’m beginning my managerial career in the city of Djougou in the north-west of the country.



Beninese football is… weird. There’s no domestic cup so the league is the only thing I have to achieve. That being said, Ligue 1 is split into four groups of nine, with the top four from each group going to a playoff league. Very South American. Unfortunately I’ve inherited an extremely imbalanced team with absolutely nothing in the budget and with a preseason tour of Togo already over and having been a complete disaster. Worse still, the save began with derby day against Dynamique, Djougou’s other team who we share a ground with. We played out a tepid 1-1 draw so it’s not the end of the world, but I knew the setup was unsustainable after the next game away at Dynamo Parakou. 1-0 was lucky.



We had three weeks before our next fixture so I decided to book some friendlies against lower reputation opponents. These went very well and the club atmosphere improved dramatically.


We took that positively into the league, drawing 1-1 with Béké in our first game back, although I think that was a bit unlucky as we dominated the xG. I’d be vindicated in our next two games: a 2-0 over Takunnin for my first competitive victory and a marvellous 6-2 away win at Cavaliers.




Now’s a great time to talk about one of the MVPs of this all-newgen squad. I’ve been playing him as a shadow striker and genuinely have no idea why he’s so good as he has the worst physicals I may have ever seen on a player.


Next up, we were taking on Djeffa away, and it was an absolutely crucial battle as we made up games in hand. Unfortunately, they have arguably the best attacking player in our group with 12 goals from 8 games this season.


We dominated against the odds, and it took a while but our hero Missigbeto gave us the lead. Unfortunately, we conceded a late free kick on the edge of the area - look at these stats and tell me we didn’t deserve all three points. I was optimistic though, with us still on for a playoff spot having played three less games than most of our rivals.



By the way, if you’re interested, Germany beat Senegal in the World Cup Final. Absolute scenes.


Up next was the reverse against Dynamo Parakou, the team responsible for my only competitive loss so far as a manager. The revenge mission at home was exceedingly successful. 2-0 didn't tell the story of just how dominant we were, and the 5’2” Pépin Missigbeto once again proved that big things come in small packages. We were now in the playoff places, above Djeffa on goal difference having played three less games. The key now was to not let it slip.



Now is as good a time as any to show off the tactic - it’s ad-hoc, but I’ve had to work with worse messes in FM.


We marked the halfway point of the regular season with a 4-2 win away at bottom-of-the-league US Baboni on New Year’s Eve. Big ups to striker Vincent Fousseni’s performance in this one, he’s inconsistent but when he’s on song he’s unstoppable.



January was going to be a tough period - all eight of our remaining Group Stage fixtures would be played by month’s end. Things move quickly in Benin it seems.


We didn’t start the month on the best note, with us needing set pieces to scrape a 2-2 draw in the derby against Dynamique. We were equally as atrocious at home to Cavaliers, with the Short Wonder himself having to come off the bench just to save us a point. The worst performance of the season by far was away at Takunnin. We conceded after 48 seconds, our new signing saved a penalty (pictured below because he’s the first signing of my career, not because he’s been good for anything else) and none of our 18 shots went in.





And just like that, nine easy points became two. That being said, it didn’t dent our playoff hopes as much as you’d think. We weren’t playing terribly, it was just bad luck. We were still in the top four with games in hand. Things couldn't get worse, they were only about to get better, right?


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CHAPTER 2: Buffles & Stats (We Do A Dive Every Time We Score)


For those uninitiated in the footballing lore of Benin, Buffles du Borgou FC - which is French for “Buffaloes du Borgou FC” - are the greatest team of modern times. They have finished top two in the last five Ligue 1 seasons, winning three of them. They were undefeated this season and 10 points clear at the top of Group A. And we now had to play them. Twice. In five days.

The gentleman below is Bienvenu Bessan. He plays as a striker for Béké FC. He is 28 years old, half French and will not shut up about Neutral Milk Hotel. He is also the only player to score against Buffles in their last 12 competitive matches. He has just been elected President of Benin and Didier Deschamps has called him up for his next France squad.


I exaggerate, but you get what a big deal this is.

In 1975, Errol Brown sang the immortal words “I believe in miracles”. Unfortunately, his faith was unfounded. A 3-0 loss away and a 2-0 loss at home, both thoroughly deserved on the part of Buffles. The “miracle” never happen. We were now three games without a point and five without a win. We would need to be on our A-game if we wanted to reach the playoffs, and we only had three matches to turn it around.




Somehow, at long last, things started happening. At home to Béké and deadline day free agent signing Nafiou Kobénan puts a pie in the face of the club that released him with his contribution to a 2-1 win. There were only two matches left now, against Baboni and Djeffa. If we won one of them, we would pip our bitter rivals Dynamique to the playoffs.



Many would have bet on us to secure the bag with a win over Baboni. Not many would have predicted the result, which I’m quite sure is a Scorigami in the history of Ligue 1. A more modest, but just as complete, victory followed against Djeffa, which allowed us to finish 3rd ahead of Dynamo. If you want to know what kind of wizardry is producing these results, look no further than the tactic. In FM23, strikerless is king.





Now came the winter of our discontent. Or, as it’s known in the trade, a month-long winter break with a few friendlies at the end. February is the time to kick back, relax and explore the city of Djougou I’ve called home for the last three months. Tripadvisor recommended this pizza restaurant. In Togo. Starting to think I might not be in a tourism hotspot.

I decided to spend my February looking around the Pendjari National Park further north. At this UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll see a wide selection of animals including elephants, hippos and buffalos - I understandably avoided the last of those. Pendjari links to the W National Park in Niger and the Ari National Park in Burkina Faso, with the three sites being collectively known as the WAP Complex. A great place to park your big Mack truck.


Back home in Djougou, preseason drew *very* mixed results. We beat sides from Togo 9-0 and 4-0, but when we actually crossed the border, a loss was our reward. A preview for the future of this save, perhaps? It was all good preparation for our first match against Loto FC in Lokossa however. There was end-to-end action in this one before the home team broke the deadlock after 37 minutes. Nafiou Kobénan would immediately equalise off the rebound, and in the second half he converted a Dider Oumorou long ball for the winner. A powerful statement ahead of the forthcoming campaign.



Our next match was AS Dragons at home. They had gone through Group D unbeaten, but lost to Espoir at home in their Championship Group opener. We piled on the misery with a 2-1 win before coming from behind twice to secure a point at AS Tonnerre. Abalonorou saved two penalties in this match by the way.



It was at this time that we would face our biggest challenge yet. Coton FC, the reigning champions of Benin, undefeated in the Group Stage, averaging more than two goals a match and favourites to pull off back-to-back title wins…

Or at least they would be, had they not lost their first three Championship Group matches without scoring a goal. They did beat Dynamo Pakarou 1-0 in their fourth match, but we could do that in our sleep at this point. Still, a war was expected and our men were fighting fit - the subsequent 0-0 was a rank disappointment.



Yes, we were unbeaten after four games, but we were seven points behind 2nd with one less match played. The teams at the very top were too good and something would have to give soon if we were to win the league - a team cannot survive on mere vibes alone.