Oct 28, 2016
Reaction score
I downloaded FM17 a few days ago and got stuck straight into a challenge that I fancied having a go at last year. I will take over a side from the home of Jesus Christ himself and build them into a dominant world force (well, I will attempt to).

This is the first FM save that I have ever attempted to post online and so I anticipate a few teething problems on the technical side of things. Screenshots will almost certainly be one as I have found that to be a challenge on forums elsewhere. Do bear with me! On a positive note I tend to rattle through seasons, especially during the school holidays, as there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting down in front of the football or the cricket and manage away on my laptop! I hope to get quite a way into the future on this save. My journey way well veer off course on the way, however.

View attachment 123468

In a somewhat controversial and risky move, Israeli National League side Ahi Nazareth appointed an unknown Englishman to take charge of the side's 2016/17 campaign. The media expected that Nazareth would finish in 4th position. The top 2 gain promotion so I felt that I would have a good side but not be desperately chasing promotion in my first season which is always helpful. The board however had different ideas and demanded that promotion be secured to the Israeli top flight via winning the league. I felt on the back foot immediately, I tend to like it when expectations are somewhat tempered. It would turn out to be appropriate to feel this way as I was sacked a mere 27 games into my reign at Ahi Nazareth. We fell short of the required semi final appearance in the Israeli National League Toto Cup, losing in the quarter finals. We fell short also in the Israeli State Cup, where we only managed to make the 7th round instead of the required 8th round. This however sounds a greater achievement than it was as we only entered in the 7th round and were knocked out by non-league opposition as I rotated my squad.

The league however was a different story. Having started somewhat inauspiciously, form picked up and a good run of 1 defeat in 12 games saw Ahi Nazareth competing for top spot. Defeat to 3rd division Kiryat-Gat in the cup however sparked a downturn in form as we went on a run which saw us pick up only 3 points from a possible 15. The board called me in for a meeting. Crisis talks were held and we agreed (I was told) that if we did not pick up 10 points from the next 5 games then I would be given my P45. A 0-0 draw to 2nd bottom Nesher was followed by a 1-0 home defeat to Hapoel Rishon LeZion. I was as good as gone. However the players showed that they would still fight for their manager and defeated Hapoel Jerusalem 4-0 in a vibrant attacking display before turning over Hapoel Katamon 1-0 with a late winner. A win in the crucial 5th game over bottom of the take Maccabi Netanya would see me fulfil the target the board had set me and save my job. It would also have seen Ahi Nazareth go top. The stage was set. Kevin Nolan was even making his long awaited debut with the transfer window having opened that week. But try as we might we could not get the elusive goal. We knocked on the door but could not batter it down. Nolan nearly salvaged a goal in the dying embers but it was not be. 8 points from a possible 15. 2nd in the table and 2 points off top. Sacked.

View attachment 123467

My aim was to take over a side from Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus Christ, and make them into a world force. My eye was therefore on the job across the road, at Ahi Nazareth's neighbours, Hapoel Nazareth-Illit. After a few months of waiting and interview practice (I was turned down for 3 other Israeli second tier jobs after this phase) I was offered the opportunity to interview for the Hapoel Nazareth job. I knelt to their every demand and was able to ride triumphantly back into Nazareth, this time wearing the red of Hapoel. Ahi Nazareth had slumped to 8th place without me and I duly hit back at them in my grand unveiling. My greatest achievement in my first season was to turn one half of Nazareth against me. In fact more than one half as it turns out that Ahi Nazareth are a decidedly larger club than Hapoel Nazareth.

View attachment 123466

And so after a bit of a false start my journey has begun. I hope to be able to post with some regularity and that the steady stream of success will continue...

Like I said, I can rattle through seasons quite quickly, particularly during the holidays and I already have my feet firmly under the table at my new club Hapoel Nazareth. My office is decorated and I make sure to never wear anything green around the training facilities. The stadium however is unfortunately named The Green Stadium despite being red. It must be named after ex Doncaster Rovers player Paul Green.

I managed to overhaul the squad and bring in a number of players on free transfers. You are only allowed to register 3 non Israeli players and so these players are crucial to the quality of the sides at this level. Being able to build a side around these players will be key. My summer business was done all without the help of a scout as the board will not let me employ one. Time will tell if it is good business. I also managed to bring in about £100k in player sales which is excellent as none of them were particularly good and I hadn't actually offered any of them out.

View attachment 123465

I am particularly pleased with the signing of young Israeli midfield Dan Glazer who joined on a contract of £200p/w and looks like he could be a huge asset in the heart of our midfield.

View attachment 123464

Also brought in was Spanish winger Pituli. Formerly of Real Madrid as his agent and mother would readily point out, this lad will add genuine quality to either flank as well as providing a threat from the dead ball.

View attachment 123457

In addition I smashed the club transfer record and shelled out a whopping £1.4k to bring in Tal Bublil to sure up the defence. In reality he is merely above average for the division but we were weak in this position and there weren't many other options out there. Don't tell him I said that.

View attachment 123455

My other key signing was Ali Khatib who I brought over from Ahi Nazareth after they failed to sign him up for the 2017/18 season. Their loss was certainly our gain as Khatib is capable of controlling games from wide areas as well as providing end product in the final third. He qualifies for Israel despite being Palestinian and will captain the club. I break down barriers wherever I go.

View attachment 123453

The final player I would like to draw attention to is Cyril Dreyer. A Frenchman who was here before I arrived (credit to the previous management) he will hopefully link up with Glazer and form a formidable partnership in the centre of midfield.

View attachment 123451

The rest were players who have a few good attributes and will hopefully fill in around the place where needed. Centre forward is a slight concern but I am pinning a lot of my hopes on 20 year old Yoad Armoza who should be good enough for 10 goals. I'm hoping between them Pituli and Khatib will score a few and create a few more. Set pieces will also be key.

I intend to play a defensive 4141 with the focus on retaining the ball and getting the ball to Pituli and Khatib in dangerous areas as much as possible whilst midfield runners support the lone striker. We are weak defensively with a poor goalkeeper and so possession will be crucial to stop our defence coming under too much pressure. Against weaker opposition or home games I may push the two wingers higher up the pitch. I have also noticed from my first few experiences of FM17 that many more sides line up with 3 at the back and sides change their formations a lot more during the game. With this in mind I have trained with a 352 system which allows us to match other teams and be flexible ourselves whilst also giving us an option to have 2 strikers on the pitch which could create more chances. Our full backs are not that good so we do not lose too much by having a system with no full backs.

View attachment 123450View attachment 123449

We played 5, won 3 and drew 2 in pre season without conceding a goal so I am quietly confident that we will be able to finish higher than the 11th place that we are being tipped for by the media. The board are expecting us to come mid table which is nice. I also hope to have a decent run in one of the cups as the board's expectations are low so this could buy me some credit early on to get the board and the understandably sceptical fans on side! I am already a little way into the new season and will post the developments tomorrow.
The season kicked off with 2 cup games. The Israeli National League Toto Cup is a cup competition for all the sides in the Israeli 2nd tier and is split into 4 groups with the top 2 qualifying for the quarter final. We started with 2 cagey draws leaving the group finely poised going into the final round of fixtures. We would be away to newly promoted Hapoel Afula and so hopes were high. An early goal from Ali Khatib proved to be enough and, despite some late pressure, come the final whistle we had earned our spot in the quarter final as group winners.

View attachment 123433

In between this we managed a home defeat in our season opener before picking up our first points away to Hapoel Afula. Before we could focus on the cup quarter final our attentions had to turn to 3 league games. 2 difficult away fixtures against league favourites Bnei-Sakhnin and Maccabi Netanya yielded zero points but we did manage to ****** a late point at home to Hapoel Rishon LeZion. LeZion would also be our opponents in the quarter final and we cruised to a 2-0 victory courtesy of goals from George Imsies and Yoad Armoza.

View attachment 123432

This sparked an upturn in our league fortunes and back to back wins over Beitar Tel-Aviv and Hapoel Acre saw us feeling a lot happier about our position in the table. Things were about to get even better as we continued our good form in the cup, securing a place in the final with an assured performance over Hapoel Ashkelon in the semi finals. A Pituli penalty put us 2-0 up and we snuck through despite a barrage of late pressure. Bnei-Sakhnin managed to win their semi final on penalties and so we would have a difficult task in a few weeks time.

View attachment 123431View attachment 123430