FM17: Flying The Flag, part 6
Getting up to speed; season 1 and 2 review
Firstly, I’ve got to apologise. Work and IBWM have both been pretty hectic of late and as such, I’ve had little time to update this FM17 series. I’ve been slowly playing, though, and have just finished my second season.
I’m going to do a quick update of both seasons to get you up to speed.
Throughout the season, my Cardiff City side were pretty solid. We never fell outside of the top six and consistently challenged at the top. In my last update, we left off in December with the bluebirds sat in third place.
After the Brighton game, we went on a superb run of games. We didn’t lose another match in the league until the 1st of April, going 15 games unbeaten. That loss came against Wolves, 1–0, and we only lost two more games before the season end — at home to Nottingham Forest and away to Huddersfield on the final day.
We were promoted as runners-up, with the loss on the final day of the season to Huddersfield ruining any chance we had of the title.
In the FA Cup, we beat Hull 2–1 at home, before losing to West Brom at the Cardiff City Stadium in the 5th round.
Our emphatic season was recognised by all; I won the Manager of the Year award, whilst Anthony Pilkington won the league’s Player of the Year. In the league’s team of the year was four Cardiff players; Bruno Manga, Declan John, Aron Gunnarsson and Pilkington.
2017 — Wales
After the loss against Italy, 2017 was a great year for us. Serbia and Moldova were dispatched 3–0 in the World Cup Qualifiers, before a 1–1 friendly draw away to Spain.
Four consecutive wins against Austria, Ireland, Serbia and Georgia meant that we qualified for the World Cup in top spot.
As we moved up the World rankings and prepared for our first World Cup since 1958, we faced Iran and FYR Macedonia. Playing youngsters, including Ethan Ampadu and Regan Poole, backfired and we lost 2–1 to Iran. We ended the year with a 5–1 win against Macedonia, but I was disappointed not to go unbeaten in 2017.
Season 2–2017/18 — Cardiff City
With our promotion confirmed, I was confident that with the right additions this squad could keep us in the Premier League.
Over the course of the season, I struggled to sell many players. Just £1.4m was brought into the club — Hoilett, Peltier and Wilson’s nominal fees — but another host of players left the club on free transfers or on loan.
Coming in were a host of players for a combined total of £28m — our complete budget.
With my Welsh managerial head on, Danny Ward was brought in from Liverpool for £8m, whilst Tom Lawrence joined from Leicester for £3.8m. Last season’s loanee Kevin Stewart also joined Ward from Merseyside, whilst old boy Fabio came back to Cardiff for £500k.
The signing of the season was Lucas Lima, who was available on a free transfer in January. He — along with Robert Snodgrass and Jason Puncheon — helped us go on an incredible run.
After a strong pre-season, we started well with a win against Norwich, before four losses. Our form was largely inconsistent, with some good wins followed up by some horrible losses.
After three losses in a row in January, including a Derby day loss against Swansea, I switched our tactics and after an 8–1 win against Bournemouth we never looked back.
11 games unbeaten in the league — including wins against Manchester City and Chelsea — actually put us in with a chance of qualifying for Europe, but an awful end to the season put that dream to bed.
However, with 56 points and a 9th place finish, I couldn’t be happier.
In the cups, we were brilliant. The EFL Cup resulted in a Quarter-Final appearance, where we lost 3–0 to Manchester United.
In the FA Cup, we went even further. Despite a dodgy start, in which we needed a replay to get past Crewe, wins against Liverpool, Chelsea and Fulham put us in the final, where we faced Sunderland. A Tom Lawrence goal in the 86th minute won us the cup, 91 years after our first and only triumph.
Wales — 2018
For Wales, we prepare for our first World Cup in 60 years. A 4–1 loss against Uruguay is not the preparation I want, but we have games against Austria and Costa Rica coming up to get us ready for the tournament — which has remained in Russia.
We’ve got a tough group — France, Ivory Coast and Mexico — but I think we can build on our great Euro 2016 campaign and surprise a few people.
Coming up next, the FIFA World Cup with Wales.