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Discussion
http://livingstonfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Sunderland-AFC.jpg

With Sunderland sitting at the bottom of the Championship in real life, I thought this might be an interesting challenge to pick up on Football Manager.

With the club in financial peril, and currently owing £119m at the start of my game, I am going to try and focus my game around relieving the financial burden dragging the club down, and trying to reignite the Roker Roar!

Sunderland have a huge squad, and their wage budget is massively out of hand. Thankfully, the main big earners are out on loan with their loaning clubs covering their wages. However, they will return (except for Borini who has agreed a transfer to Milan pre-start) eventually, so they are part of the finances we need to concentrate on sorting.

My main goals of the save are:

1) To introduce young players into the first team, minimum 2 per season from the club's youth setup
2) Implement a wage cap to stabilise the out of control wage bill
3) Return to the Premier League

Wage Cap / Structure
So the first place to start is with the wage budget, and looking at our current spend, we have some room to manouever:

Wage Budget:    £647,680
Current Spend:  £599,870

One thing that is stifling this club is the fact that the expenses are very high for a Championship side. With this in mind, the first target is to reduce the wage spend below £500k per week.

By splitting the squad into four groups, we can figure out where the money should be spent, and how much of it:

Key Players - 4 players - 30% of total wage = £37,500 p/w
First Team - 7 players - 30% of total wage = £21,428 p/w
Squad Players - 12 players - 30% of total wage = £12,500 p/w
Youth Players - 20 players - 10% of total wage = £ 2,500 p/w

Next step, address the current playing staff against the wage structure, and see where we can release some funds!
With the squad in need of an overhaul, there are very few players who I consider a Key Player at this moment in time. Lamine Kone is probably the closest to being a key member of the side, but due to his current wages and the intended wage cap, he will have to take a pay cut to stay.

With the wage cap in mind, the following players will be offered reduced terms or sold at the earliest opportunity.:

Lee Cattermole   | £50,000
Lamine Kone      | £45,000
Darron Gibson    | £35,000
Billy Jones      | £30,000
John O'Shea      | £30,000
Callum McManaman | £28,000
Bryan Oviedo     | £25,000
Adam Matthews    | £25,000
Aiden McGeady    | £25,000
Brendan Galloway | £22,500

Galloway is currently on loan from Everton, and as he isn't any better than what we currently have at the squad, his loan deal will be terminated immediately. A quick win, and we've shaved nearly £23k from the wage bill.
Two in, three out
https://cdn.sofifa.org/18/players/169607.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/18/players/138722.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/18/players/3484.png

First to leave the club is Lee Cattermole, who moves to AC Milan for £8.25m. Cattermole was on a three year contract at the Stadium of Light, and at £50k per week, was our highest earner. Following him out the door was Billy Jones who moves to rivals Middlesbrough for £2.7m. Jones was in the last year of his contract, but wasn't interested in reduced terms, so he was available to leave.

John O'Shea was the next high earner to leave, moving north of the border to Celtic for £250k. I wasn't expecting much in way of transfer fee for him, but it was more important to move another £30k per week off the wage spend.

The good news is, along with Galloway's departure, we have released over £150k per week from the wage budget, and added £11m to the clubs coffers.

https://cdn.sofifa.org/18/players/215818.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/18/players/212419.png

Incoming are two loanees from Bournemouth, with Emerson Hyndman and Tyrone Mings arriving at the club on season long loans. I don't want to rely too much on loans, but with the current squad lacking depth at full back, Mings will be first choice.

Hyndman fills a space in midfield left by Cattermole, but may not be a definite starter for us immediately.

As we gear up for our first game of the season, our finances look a lot healthier, but the squad looks a lot thinner:

Wage Budget: £647,680
Current Spend: £441,161
A great start to this @willz121, interesting to delve into the finances and how you've broken it down. I must say, that Cattermole transfer is one of my favourites I've seen in FM

Mings a great signing!
KEZWrites
Surprise
#iUsedToBeKiKó
Agree with Kez brilliant start @willz121 its great when people go the extra mile with the finance details.
Football Manager 2018 - From A Failed Footballer To A Traveling Manager - Story coming soon...
@KEZ_7 - I couldn't believe that Cattermole will be playing at the San Siro! It made me laugh when I saw the caliber of sides who were coming in for him. Milan offered the most, and I am very happy to take their money. Mings should be solid for us, and if possible, I'm hoping to add him permanently if I can. Had a look at a couple of other left backs, but he is the stand out.

@Dan Thanks for commenting! Really appreciate the support early on in the career. I'm really trying to focus on being strict with the finances, which is making every contract negotiation more interesting as I have stricter budgets than usual. To be honest, in most games, I just go whole hog and blow all my transfer and wage budgets without much thought and run huge squads - but this time round I'm even working hard to loan out players on high wages, just to save that cash.

August update should be ready fairly soon, lots of transfer dealings and a few matches to report on, so hopefully it'll be an interesting read. Appreciate the comments & support!
So the transfer window slams shut, and whilst we've played seven games, it makes sense to me to introduce you to the squad...

Goalkeepers
https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/189936.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/204966.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/17/players/221340.png

Firstly, I terminated the loan of Lee Camp as he wasn't going to fit in my side and we were paying his wages. We also moved Jason Steele onto Blackburn Rovers for £300k. That leaves us with Robbin Ruiter, Adrian Ortola and Billy O'Brien. Ruiter was already at the club, Ortola arrives from Barcelona B for £450k and O'Brien arrives on a free transfer.

O'Brien will be third choice keeper, and I am hoping for Ortola to push for a first team spot. At 24 years of age, the Spaniard has age on his side and I hope we can see him develop into first team material.

Full Backs
https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/213686.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/236273.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/186156.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/212419.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/222399.png

As previously mentioned, Billy Jones has already left the club, whilst I also mutually terminated the contract of Adam Matthews. Both players were on more than I wanted to pay, and to get them both off the books was good business in my opinion.

Donald Love is the only full back who remained at the club, and as he can also play at centre back, he is a good squad player to keep hold of. Our new additions consist of Karlo Bartolec who costs us £300k from Danish side FC Nordsjælland, Luke Ayling from Leeds United for £525k, Tyrone Mings on loan from Bournemouth and Connor Ogilvie on a free transfer from Tottenham Hotspur, with 10% of the future transfer fee going back to Spurs.

Centre Backs
https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/193504.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/213697.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/166919.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/230774.png


Our only addition at centre back is Steven Caulker who arrives on a free transfer. He has become one of our highest paid players at £27.5k per week, but if he remains fit then he will be an integral part of the side. Paddy McNair and Marc Wilson will add significant experience to the side, whilst Jake Clarke-Salter remains with us on loan from Chelsea.
Centre Midfielders
https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/152536.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/189280.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/222528.png
https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/222970.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/198776.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/232757.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/230876.png

I'm really pleased with our additions to the midfield. Firstly, I wanted to add two quality players in the centre, and with Bradley Johnson (£1.6m from Derby) and Ashley Westwood (£1.8m from Burnley) joining, I think we should have a dominant pack and dictate our play.

In addition, Lynden Gooch will remain as part of the first team squad rather than letting him leave on loan, and will compete with Erhun Oztumer (£400k from Walsall) as centre attacking midfielder. Jonny Williams (on loan from Crystal Palace) will provide excellent competition in both CM and CAM, although I am looking to focus game time for the players we own in this area.

Backing them all up are two youngsters; Kyle Scott arrives from Chelsea for £200k, and Matt Butcher has been signed from Bournemouth for £240k. Both will be in and around the first team squad this season, and I hope to get both involved as much as possible.
Theres a couple issues with some of the screenshots above not showing @willz121
Football Manager 2018 - From A Failed Footballer To A Traveling Manager - Story coming soon...
Thanks @Dan - seems I copied some of the links incorrectly. Should be resolved now, but appreciate the heads up [pun intended]
Wide Midfielders
https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/169644.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/player.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/17/players/228938.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/227813.png

Jacques Maghoma arrived from Birmingham City for £475k, and will be first choice on the left. He signs on a minimal wage, and I really am pleased that we signed him. We signed Michael Donohue on a free transfer, but he left immediately for Torquay on loan. We repeated this with Owain Jones, but he has gone on loan to Grimsby. Both seem to be good prospects, and hopefully will either push for a first team role when they return or develop to a point where we can sell them on. Finally, Oleksandr Zinchenko arrives on loan from Manchester City. He's in need of development, but I am looking forward to seeing where he fits into the bigger picture.

Forwards
https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/208022.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/player.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/235855.png

I am really disappointed with the lack of additions up top, but I really couldn't find the right player for the right price. We were priced out of a number of targets on wages, but we added Imoh Ezekiel who has previously spent time at Anderlecht. Finally, we added Corie Andrews who was released by Crystal Palace, and has been sent on loan to Crystal Palace. Joel Asoro was already at the club, and he will be given a lot of first team appearances this season.

Lamine Kone and Darron Gibson remain at the club, but we will try and limit their appearances to focus on developing the players who have a long term future at the club.

Wage Budget: £647,680
Current Spend: £456,542

So the wage spend is now below £500k, which is excellent, and we will continue to moderate the wage budget and the wage cap. For now, we will keep the cap where it is as we may need to strengthen in January, but I am delighted we've managed to strip the spend back so much. Onto the games next...
August 2016

Whilst a busy transfer window revolved around us, we had seven fixtures in the first month of the new season.

Championship: Burton Albion 1 - 2 Sunderland
A trip to the Pirelli Stadium was first up, and goals from Marc Wilson and Ovie Ejaria (who has since had his loan spell cancelled) allowed us a great start to the campaign. We were pretty average, but if we play badly and win, we will definitely take that!

League Cup: Sunderland 3 - 0 Morecambe
A much rotated side took the field against Morecambe, with Lynden Gooch and Kazenga Lua Lua (x2) goals securing us a very comfortable win. Debuts were given to a number of Academy players, with Dan Casey and Ethan Robson particularly impressing.

League: Sunderland 1 - 1 Nottingham Forest
The cameras were out at the Stadium of Light for the Friday night fixture against Forest, and despite taking the lead through Emerson Hyndman, Daryl Murphy levelled things and we were unable to get past Forest's back five. A tough game, but a good point.

League: QPR 2 - 2 Sunderland
A double from Joel Asoro, the latter coming in the 89th minute, meant that we maintained our unbeaten start in the league as we journeyed to the capital. QPR gave us a thoroughly entertaining fixture, but it's clear that we are a long way from the finished article.

League: Fulham 0 - 2 Sunderland
Another game in London, this time at Fulham, saw us come away with all three points, as Jacques Maghoma netted a double to give us a much needed win. We seem to be generating chances and scoring goals through midfield, which is very pleasing!

League Cup: Wolves 2 - 1 Sunderland
Out played, out thought and out classed were my thoughts watching this game. We really were second best all over the pitch, and only rescued a consolation goal in injury time. The cup was never a massive goal for us, but it's always nice to have a little run. Alas, it's not meant to be and we can "concentrate on the league".

League: Sunderland 1 - 0 Ipswich Town
Joel Asoro netted the only goal in a very entertaining game. Neither side really had the quality up front to capitalise on the chances created, but an even game was edged by the young forward, who is looking every bit a first team player so far!
September
I thought we ended August in a good place, but September was a very rude awakening for us...

League: Sunderland 0 - 0 Sheffield United
Normally, a point against the Blades wouldn't be too disappointing, but they have been in woeful form this season, and this was definitely two points lost. The positive to take out of this game was Adrian Ortola keeping a clean sheet on his debut...

League: Hull City 4 - 2 Sunderland
... but then conceding four in his next game! Ortola wasn't to blame for all of the goals, but I did question the decision to stick with the youngster against a side who had been playing so well this season. However, he needs games to develop, and we will persevere with rotating between him and Ruiter. Jonny Williams and Bradley Johnson scored our goals, but aside from that, it wasn't a particularly happy 'derby' for us.

League: Cardiff City 3 - 2 Sunderland
A trip to Wales was also less than enjoyable, as again we scored twice on the road but failed to take any points. We're creating and scoring, but if we could learn to keep it tight at the back, then we would really have a presence in this league. Jacques Maghoma and Imoh Ezekiel scored our goals.

League: Sunderland 2 - 2 Wolves
Back to our pad, and we got a respectable draw with Wolves. Maghoma opened the scoring from the spot, before Joel Asoro secured a vital draw for us. After the previous two fixtures, it was pleasing to get away from losing, and Wolves should be the team everyone fears this season with their squad!

League: Sunderland 3 - 1 Aston Villa
What a pleasing result! After a bad run, we notched an excellent win over Villa, as goals from Ezekiel (x2) and Hyndman were enough to give us three points. It feels like it could be one of those seasons this year, but with us scoring goals for fun, we should be in most matches. Wins like this are vital, as is our home form.

League: Millwall 2 - 5 Sunderland
Jonny Williams was simply fantastic in this game, and we were 4-0 up in 27 minutes. Williams went on to grab his hat-trick, with Ezekiel and Ashley Westwood completing the rout. It was just a perfect performance, and with such an early flurry of goals, we had them dead and buried. Brilliant result!

League: Sunderland 4 - 0 Preston North End
A home game against Preston to round the month off, and we were excellent again. Whether we are finally gelling, or something is clicking in our new squad, we seem to be hitting some good form and we can hopefully maintain our place in or around the promotion hunt.

This result means we finish September in 2nd place, trailing Sheffield Wednesday.
October
October started with a slender 1-0 victory over Barnsley, with Kazenga Lua Lua scoring the only goal. It was a disappointing performance, and one that set the tone for October. We followed it up with a 2-0 defeat against Derby and a 3-2 defeat against Brentford. Imoh Ezekiel got both the goals against Brentford, and followed that up with another against Middlesbrough in a 1-1 draw. We concluded the month with another 1-1 draw against Norwich, with Jacques Maghoma giving us an early lead.

November
Only three games in November, but our poor form continued. We began with a scoreless draw against Reading before defeat against Sheffield Wednesday. Emerson Hyndman scored a consolation for us in a 2-1 defeat, before we scrambled a win against Bolton. Ezekiel getting our only goal in which was a very poor performance all round.

December
In comparison to the previous two months, December was much better for us! We began with a 0-0 draw against Bristol City, before beating play off rivals Birmingham City 3-2 with goals from Zinchenko, Ezekiel and Gooch giving us a massive three points. A 2-2 draw with Leeds followed, with Maghoma grabbing a brace, before we comfortably beat Burton 3-0. Jonny Williams scored twice, with Lua Lua scoring the final goal. A Boxing Day win over Nottingham Forest (3-1 with goals from Hyndman, Gooch adn Ezekiel) was followed on New Years Eve with a 2-1 win over QPR. Ezekiel put us ahead just after half time, and Williams scored in injury time to give us a win.

January
We were very active in the January window, bringing in Carlos Castro from Gijon for £2.5m, Charlie Mulgrew from Blackburn for £2m, Conor Hourihane from Aston Villa for £3m and Arthur Masuaku on loan from West Ham. We also added a number of youngsters to the squad, including Trevor Chalobah and Tyrell Warren.

We began the month with a 3-1 win over Sheffield United, with Ezekiel, Mulgrew and Oztumer scoring, before we drew 1-1 with QPR in the FA Cup 3rd Round. Before the replay, we took maximum points at Ipswich, winning 3-2 with goals from Ezekiel x2 and Gooch. The game at Loftus Road was a straight forward affair, with us progressing to the next round with a 4-1 win. Carlos Castro scored twice on his debut, with Curtis Hamilton and Ezekiel scoring the other goals.

A 2-0 victory over Fulham followed, with a double from Zinchenko, before we managed to knock Burnley out of the FA Cup in the Fourth Round by the same score. Zinchenko scored again, with Ezekiel adding the second.

February
With automatic promotion in sight, we suffered back to back defeats against Hull City and Wolves to really dent our promotion push. Fortunately we got back to winning ways with a 3-0 win over Cardiff, before drawing with Millwall. Our FA Cup journey ended with a 2-0 defeat at Anfield, before two successive draws ended the month; 3-3 with Aston Villa and 2-2 with Preston North End.

March
An early strike from Gooch gave us a 1-0 win over Barnsley, before two draws with Derby (0-0) and Brentford (2-2). Norwich then gave us a lesson in defending, as we lost 1-0 and barely managed to break down their defence. Norwich are well on course to secure promotion and probably the title, but we did very little to show that we have anything to compete with them.

April
With the play offs still in our hands, we entered the final full month of the season with a lot to play for. Starting with a game against local rivals Middlesbrough, we played out an entertaining 1-1 draw. However, defeats against Sheffield Wednesday and Reading put a huge dent in our chances of a top six finish, and we only clung to the play off places due to the equally inept performances of the sides below us. We faced Bolton and Bristol City, sides with nothing to play for, and only came away with two points, games finishing 1-1 and 0-0 respectively. A timely 1-0 victory over Birmingham City saw us end April with one game to go, and knowing that avoiding defeat would see us into the play offs.

May
That final game came at Elland Road, with Leeds safe from relegation, and us fighting for our play off hopes, the game finished 1-1. Due to other results, we finished fifth, and went on to face Brentford in the play offs. Birmingham finished 3rd, and Ipswich 6th.

In the first leg, we were excellent in front of goal, but dreadful at defending, playing out a 3-2 victory. Knowing that we had the upper hand due to no away goals, we went to Griffin Park with high hopes, but lost 4-2 meaning we were out with a 6-5 aggregate defeat.

Ipswich went on to beat Brentford in the final, and they joined Norwich City (champions) and Wolves in the Premier League next season. Nottingham Forest, Barnsley and Burton were relegated to League One, and Forest could be an interesting challenge should they not get promoted straight back.

I signed a new two year deal at the club, but due to missing out on promotion, the finances are looking tight. The wage budget for next season is £450k and transfer budget is £4m. With some high earners returning from loans, this summer will more than likely see a high turnover of players!

Apologies for the long write up, but I got distracted by the game and forgot to do more detailed posts as they happened.
Interesting read mate.
Thanks @bigmattb28 - I don't like bulky text updates, so I will be aiming to spread them out a bit more during season 2. I just got stuck into the games as they were thick and fast, and next thing I know I'm already in pre-season!

Any comments or advice on layout gratefully received!
@willz121 I've just started my own story too so not really in a position to advise on layouts, I intend to have something similar to yours with a few screens and comments here and there.

Best of luck (from a Geordie btw!) I'll definitely be following.
This was a very good read, thanks for posting. It makes me think I should be trying to make more of a 'challenge' with my game rather then just playing.
@willz121 I've just started my own story too so not really in a position to advise on layouts, I intend to have something similar to yours with a few screens and comments here and there.

Best of luck (from a Geordie btw!) I'll definitely be following.

I'd be keen to do a similar save with Newcastle, as I can imagine their wage budget is probably all over the place with some on Championship wages, and some on top whack. Good luck with your save, I will follow it!!
This was a very good read, thanks for posting. It makes me think I should be trying to make more of a 'challenge' with my game rather then just playing.

Thanks for reading it so far! I always intend to do a save where I focus on the financial side of things, but then I get distracted and throw my wage structure in the bin and just max it out instead! It does make it tougher, but worse it makes you more critical of the high earning players who play badly as you've literally staked so much on them! Appreciate the comment, thanks!
I'd be keen to do a similar save with Newcastle, as I can imagine their wage budget is probably all over the place with some on Championship wages, and some on top whack. Good luck with your save, I will follow it!!


I never do a save with Newcastle, I support them and don't get the kind of connection I do with teams I've got no affiliation with as weird as that sounds, give me a worldwide journeyman save any day!

I'll get a proper post up over the weekend for my Soviet Story mate, first time doing it on this forum. Thanks for following
July 2017
After losing out in the play offs, we had to take stock of where we were overspending, and where we needed to strengthen. With the return of players on big wages, it was another busy period both in and out of the club. Firstly, let's cover the major outs!

https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/193504.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/213697.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/190852.png

The first big piece of transfer news was the sudden departure of Steven Caulker to Watford for £15m; Caulker had already asked for a transfer after we missed out on promotion, and when the Hornets came in with a decent offer, we snapped their hands off and he was on his way. Paddy McNair was the next big departure, leaving for Bournemouth for £13.5m. McNair didn't have a strong season last year, and with high wages and annual increases in his contract, it was right to let him leave. I believe we have better in the squad, and if not we can certainly replace him. Callum McManaman had spent last season on loan at Udinese as I wanted his wages off the book. When he returned, I realised that he still wouldn't play for me, and he was moved on for £6m.

https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/186200.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/189280.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/178416.png

Fabio Borini's transfer to AC Milan was already agreed as part of the loan deal, and we received £5.25m for him. It's a shame as he would do very well in my system, either out wide or up front, but it's not meant to be. Ashley Westwood's stay at Sunderland came to an early finish, as he simply didn't do enough to warrant his place in my squad. He moves to Fulham for £4.3m, and although he will be competing with us this season, I think it's a good move. Jermain Lens completed his pre arranged transfer to Besiktas for £3.7m. It solved an issue that I didn't have to sell him.

https://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/216268.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/189936.pnghttps://cdn.sofifa.org/1x/18/players/152536.png

Duncan Watmore demanded a move away, but there were no takers above the £3.5m we managed to get from Norwich City. He gets his wish of Premier League football, and we move on. It's a shame to lose him as he's a key player to Sunderland fans, but with the incomings we've got lined up, he won't be missed. Robbin Ruiter leaves to return to his native Holland, and joins Vitesse for £3m. Ruiter wasn't good enough last season, and I wasn't confident keeping him at the club. Bradley Johnson moves south to Ipswich Town for £3m, and was a tough decision to make. He wasn't amazing for us last season, but he was the true meaning of the phrase Steady Eddie. Another £3m added to the bank balance is great.

Other departures included Luke Ayling who returned to Leeds for £1m, Donald Love moved to Plymouth and Erhun Oztumer moved to Portsmouth, both for £350k each. Other than that, the other departures were youngsters who wouldn't cut it. So a high departure rate, and the squad will be very different next season.

Total sum received: £59m
That is a quality intake for a Championship team, interested to see how you splash it!
KEZWrites
Surprise
#iUsedToBeKiKó
August 2017
With massive outgoings, we had to do something to redress the balance and bring some depth into the squad. I decided to focus on bringing some younger players to the club, but also managed to bring in a few experienced heads as well.

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Firstly, I needed to replace Steven Caulker and I believe Alfie Mawson is an excellent player to do that with. He's only 24 years old, and comes in as captain. We snatched him from Swansea who were relegated for £925k. Next up, I wanted to bring in a new full back and Todd Kane fit the bill perfectly. He can play on either side, and arrives from Chelsea for £750k. Bobby Adekanye arrived from Liverpool for the same fee, and will be a bit part player this season. He has a lot of potential, and I will endeavour to give him game time whenever possible.

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Mande Sayoud replaces the outgoing Ruiter, and will compete with Ortola for first choice goalkeeper this season. He arrives from Stabaek for £500k. Our scouts have spent a lot of time in Scandinavia, and he looks a great talent. We next added two forwards on free transfers, with Patrick Bamford and Ezequiel Ponce arriving. Bamford has ties to Middlesbrough, but I don't worry about that and I hope we can develop him here. Ponce is a gamble due to injury concerns, but hopefully he can also bed in here and at the very least we can get some transfer fees for them in the future if things don't work out.

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Matthew Pennington arrives on a free transfer after his release from Leeds, and can cover at centre back or full back. He's a player I've admired in real life after his loan spell at Coventry a few seasons ago, and I think this is another signing that should stand us in good stead. Sam Gallagher arrives on a free transfer from Southampton after being released. Gallagher was top goalscorer in the Championship last season with Birmingham City, and I am hopeful he can repeat those efforts this year. Matthew Willock arrives on a free transfer after his release from Manchester United, and I am very hopeful he will force his way into the first team squad this year.

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Three loan signings to round things off: Andreas Pereira arrives on loan from Manchester United, and should be very competitive at this level. I am pleased to have signed him, and I am expecting big things from him. Tammy Abraham arrives on loan from Chelsea, and whilst I want to focus on developing my own players, he was an opportunity not to be missed. Finally, Tom Davies arrives on loan from Everton and will give us something in central midfield. I have no idea how good he is on FM 17, but I am hopeful he will add some guile to the side.

Total spend: £5.5m
August 2017

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Milton Keynes Dons 1 - 0 Sunderland
Sayouba, Kane, Mawson, Djilobodji, James, Pereira, Ndong, Davies, Febas, Ponce, Abraham, Ezekiel
Subs: Khazri, Gallagher

A solitary strike from Jake Clarke-Salter late on secured an opening day victory for MK Dons. We were not at the races at all, and it's an incredibly disappointing start to the season.

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Sunderland 1 - 0 Blackpool
Ortola, Kane, Pennington, Wynter, James, Houghton, Alena, Pereira (1 goal), Bamford, Adekanye, Abraham
Subs: Wilkinson

Andreas Pereira scored the only goal to put us through to the second round of the EFL Cup. Pereira played the part of the role that I hoped he would when we signed him with an excellent finish.

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Sunderland 1 - 2 Bolton Wanderers
Sayouba, Kane, Djilobodji, Mawson, James, Davies, Alena, Febas, Gooch, Pereira, Abraham
Subs: Pennington, Ponce (1 goal), Hourihane

Another poor performance in the league, with Sammy Ameobi opening the scoring for our visitors. Ezequiel Ponce levelled after coming on as a substitute, but Jem Karacan scored on 80 minutes to win it for Bolton.

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Sheffield United 0 - 1 Sunderland
Sayouba, Kane, Mawson, Mulgrew, James, Davies, Ndong, Febas (1 goal), Hourihane, Pereira, Ponce
Subs: Gabrielsen, Abraham, Khazri

Finally, a league victory to our name! An early goal from Aleix Febas was enough to get us off the mark after just six minutes. We held on, it wasn't pretty, but a win is a win.

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Sunderland 4 - 1 Swansea City
Sayouba, Kane, Mawson, Gabrielsen, James, Pereira (2 goals), Ndong, Davies, Febas, Ponce, Abraham (2 goals)
Subs: None

A fantastic win for us, and after we had such a bad start to the season, it was great to see everything click. We changed the system a little bit and played two up front and it paid off against the side who came down from the Premier League.

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Rotherham United 2 - 4 Sunderland
Ortola, Kane, Pennington, Mawson, Radmore, Pereira (1 goal), Davies, Alena, Willock, Bamford (1 goal), Gallagher (2 goals)
Subs: None

A few fringe players were given a game here, with Radmore and Willock making their debuts. Willock played really well, and we grabbed goals from Bamford, Pereira and a double from Gallagher.

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Millwall 0 - 2 Sunderland
Sayouba, Kane, Gabrielsen, Djilobodji, James, Davies, Ndong, Febas, Hourihane, Pereira, Abraham
Subs: Alena, Gooch, Gallagher (2 goals)

A double from Gallagher off the bench was enough to win the game for us, and I was really pleased that he has started to find some form for us.
Done very well in the transfer window, how do the finances compare now to when you took over? Judging by your work the wages must of dropped off significantly.

Some surprising results so far this season, hopefully you pick it straight up now.
Football Manager 2018 - From A Failed Footballer To A Traveling Manager - Story coming soon...
Very rarely i read through a whole story but this one made me so have subscribed.
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Thanks @Dan - was really pleased with how the window went, although I feel as though we need to buy a couple more quality players rather than focussing on the loans we have. Pereira should be our best player this year, but signing someone of that quality could be tough. I'll do a finance update at the end of January's window as that's where I am currently up to!

@VP. - thanks so much for subscribing! It's been an interesting save so far, and I am pleased that you have been interested by it!

September 2017

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Leeds United 1 - 1 Sunderland
Scorers: Tammy Abraham

A decent point bearing in mind the performance, as we were absolutely dreadful! I can't fathom how we can create so many attempts yet fail to score - other than this being FM! Will take a point, but it should've been much more.

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Sunderland 1 - 1 Reading
Scorers: Aleix Febas

Another draw, and another game where we should have scored a load of goals. Aleix Febas has been superb this season, and keeping hold of him will be massive for the club. He arrived on a free and has been a great addition.

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Sunderland 2 - 1 Aston Villa
Scorers: Ezequiel Ponce, Alfie Mawson

Woo hoo!! Finally we score more than once and secure three points. We're still conceding far too many goals, but we can focus on that in the tactics and try to shore up a bit. Still creating chances, and relieved to have got a win!

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Sunderland 4 - 0 Peterborough United
Scorers: Didier Ndong, Andreas Pereira, Carlos Castro (2)

Another comfortable win in the cup, and we're through to the 4th round with four goals. We were easily better than our visitors, and despite rotating the side, we managed to produce a top display of attacking football.

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Derby County 3 - 1 Sunderland
Scorers: Andreas Pereira

Ah normal service has resumed. We were absolutely battered by Derby County here, and they thoroughly deserve three points. Pereira pulled one back for us late on, but it was far too late to mount a substantial comeback.

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Middlesbrough 0 - 0 Sunderland
Scorers: None

A clean sheet, but also a nil on the goals for column. A very tepid derby, with neither side really giving an inch. Can't be too disappointed with this result against a side above us in the league, but the fans might be strained after failing to beat our rivals.

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Sunderland 1 - 0 Bristol City
Scorers: Todd Kane

The TV cameras were on show at the Stadium of Light, and we managed to get a win against a decidedly average Bristol City. Todd Kane scored a cracker for us, and it was always looking as though the game would go either to a dodgy penalty, wonder strike, or finish 0-0. Thankfully we come away with three points!
October 2017

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Sunderland 2 - 1 Brentford
Scorers: Aleix Febas, Todd Kane


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Sunderland 3 - 2 Blackburn Rovers
Scorers: Wahbi Khazri, Carles Alena, Carlos Castro


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Sheffield Wednesday 1 - 3 Sunderland
Scorers: Carlos Castro, Alex Wilkinson, Didier Ndong


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Sunderland 0 - 0 Crystal Palace
Scorers: None


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Tottenham Hotspur 3 - 3 Sunderland (Sunderland win 3-1 on penalties)
Scorers: Carlos Castro (3)


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Queens Park Rangers 1 - 0 Sunderland
Scorers: None
Some solid results there, quality beating Spurs too!
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