FM17 European Gigalo Challenge Episode 7: Life in the Premier League

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Upon securing promotion, I immediately get down to business. My scouts are everywhere, I’ve got reports coming through my ears. I immediately sign Vinicius Junior, the one Real Madrid splashed an audacious amount on in real-life, for a minimal fee and inserted a £20m release-clause; I plan to exploit that at a later club.

Luke Ayling, Marco Silvestri & Liam Cooper all sign new deals, whilst Kyle Bartley, Modou Barrow and Matt Grimes make their loan moves permanent. I also complete a move for Tom Cairney from Fulham, who my scouts were desperate for me to sign, and my focus is now trimming the squad and eyeing a few cheap recruits.

Joe Mattock joins from Rotherham for a minimal fee and I land Christian Kabasele. Now the only thing I’m looking for in particular is a top-class goalkeeper but I’m willing to adjust my plans as the summer progresses. Firstly, I want to sort out my own future. A one-year deal isn’t good enough for me.

No!? Maybe applying to the Nice job will convince them. Anyway, we’re on the verge of June and my wealth of new signings won’t arrive for another few weeks. There’s still some room for movement but I’ve landed my ‘big boys’, now I’ll exploit the players who won’t cost much.

Mike Van Der Hoorn arrives for £425k, giving me more experience in defence, and I’ve also secured youngster Jaden Brown and Celtic full-back Emilio Izaguirre on a free transfer. Assistant manager Pep Cloret is asking for ridiculous wages so he’s replaced with Kevin Summerfield. Nice offer me an interview but I’m content here, in all honesty.

We land Reece Oxford on loan and my defensive options are very strong. Now all I want is the new season, just like I’m currently feeling in the real world. Thankfully, there’s progress. The fixtures have been announced and we start with Newcastle, Everton, Bournemouth and Watford.

My target is simply to ‘attempt’ avoid relegation. I mull over changing it but decide to stick with it, I’d rather overachieve than underachieve. In the blink of an eye, we’re suddenly screwed. Garry Monk and the board messed everything up previously, half of my squad has a 25% increase in their wages and we’re suddenly £200k-a-week over our wage budget. What the hell!

I’ve put my soul into assembling a decent team and wanted a few free agents. Instead, the board want me to sell players. I earmark Giuseppe Bellusci, Stuart Dallas and Kemar Roofe for exits, as they’re all on £25k+. There’s interest in no-one, why is it that when you need to sell the interested clubs disappear?

Our pre-season campaign goes well, we win all five games, and I’m ready for the challenge against Newcastle. Hopefully the off-field issues don’t transfer into the match as otherwise we’ll have some real problems. My first XI for the game is strong, particularly in attack, and the strength of the bench shows the depth I’ve created.

In all honesty our match preparation isn’t great so I’m not too surprised when we fall behind to a Ciaran Clark header after 11 minutes. Losing Luke Ayling 20 minutes in to a red card, however, is inexcusable and Matt Ritchie puts us two behind. I’m livid. A better performance follows after the break but we lose 3-1.

We draw Swindon in the EFL Cup and our first home game of the season against Everton ends in a 3-1 victory to us. We then draw 0-0 with Bournemouth, thrash Swindon in the cup and lose to Watford. Four points from four matches in the Premier League isn’t terrible but it’s also not great- especially if I want to land a job with the big boys.

Deadline Day passes us by and we return from the international break to beat West Brom 2-1 before securing our second win in a row against Hull. A double-header against Tottenham follows and they beat us in the cup, though we secure a respectable draw in a Premier League clash at Elland Road.

Incredibly, we find ourselves sat sixth in the Premier League and the pundits are asking if I think we can make Europe. In truth, I’m not entirely sure and the upcoming clash with second-placed Manchester City is our biggest test so far, especially as Spurs have been under-performing.

Manchester City won the Champions League last season, making them a no-go for my challenge in the future, and I’d love to get a result here. They boast Mauro Icardi in their attack though, a big summer signing, and I’m going to struggle to keep the Argentine quiet.

Leroy Sane and Nolito are tearing us apart down the flanks, so it’s only a matter of time until the latter finds the back of the net. Overall though we’ve not actually been that bad, though Icardi inevitably scores in the second-half. It’s not a game I’m expected anything out of though so I’m pleased with our performance against the champions of Europe.

We enter the October international break in seventh spot with 11 points, six ahead of the relegation zone, and our overall record stands at three wins, two draws and three defeats. We’re certainly exceeding expectations and our goals are well spread across the team, so there’s not the reliance on the false nine like there was at Schalke.