Let’s not beat around the bush here, we’ve had a ridiculous season. In absolutely no way whatsoever should this have worked. So either the Zonal Marking guys are genius recruiters, I’m the best manager since Clough, or FM21 didn’t know what to make of the team. How ridiculous you ask?
Now I very much didn’t see that coming I’ll be honest. I totally assumed we’d drop off, lose a load of games, and finish 7th or maybe even 8th. Europe seemed entirely out of the question to me. But, as you can see, we managed to lose only one of our final thirteen games. Admittedly we drew eight of the bloody things, but we avoided defeat to Liverpool and had an absolutely epic peformance against Man Utd (did someone say ’96th minute penalty winner?), so I’m not gonna complain too much. And what’s more contiental competition came on the back of some truly epic final day results.
Leicester were looking very much like they’d finish above us, grabbing the final Europa spot and saving our hamstrings. But on the final day, when we won 4-0 against Leeds, Leicester got absolutely battered SIX-NIL by Sheffield United. And what’s more a Sheffield United side who weren’t mathmatically safe and needed the win. We can only thank our neigbours across the border for helping deliver fatigue and distress to St George’s Park for next year.
I feel like the unbeaten (if not exactly winning) run in was made even more miraculous by having every midfielder in the squad injured at one point or another. Phillips, Dallas, and Mckennie all missed at least two games. And Barella is a player who in the team talks is constantly “aggressive.” Not a trait I am averse to having in a player, but when it means my best midfielder, and the only one the plays in the center of the pitch and can attack like hell, is getting a yellow card every other game? Well, I could do without it. Although looking back at the line up above I’m finding it hard to explain my worries, given it looks like only two of the starting eleven played 30 or fewer games.
We made three substitutions in every game pretty much, so maybe that’s skewed my opinion of the players? And frankly I can barely remember a thing that Llorente or Casemiro have done, either wrong or right, so it really seems like we were a lot more averagely consistent than I feel like we were. It’s hard to argue with the stats, given which podcast the idea for this team came from. And speaking of which, just how unique were we?
Maybe we need to be renmaed to Quite Unique-ish A Bit If You Squint FC? I am delighted by the xG being higher than the league average, but I’m mainly absolutely loving the nightmarish looking stat of our xG (and actual) on goals conceded. That’s exactly the sort of useless football I want to see from The Unicorns. Maybe I can just swap the midfielders out for absolutely terrible passers next year?
Basically I dunno. I haven’t decided if I want to go another season with this bunch of lads, or if they should be a one season wonder befitting their nickname? I mainly feel bad about Crystal Palace having no place in the pyramid. I think I might jump onto something else, and then come back to the Unicorns in a little while. My main problem is going to be bulking out the squad for next season’s European adventure. With the greatest of respect I’m not really sure if Naismith and Akins could do it on a Thursday night in Bratislava. I think I’d need to put some serious hours into the FM21 scouting system to pick out players who’ve become unique in their own right. Unless someone reads this and gives me a handful of players I can have without thinking about? Michael? Tom?