A Football Manager 2012 Story – Blow-by-Blow
Though this may sound incredibly sad to some of you, I have been having great fun on my current FM12 save.
I’ve never been overly keen on starting the game with big teams, but the way this panned out was rather odd. I started a game as Barcelona manager, but with the aim of dismantling the Best Team in the World(TM) and replacing the players with loads of mediocre British players – the first players I secured the signings of were Bobby Zamora (well it sounds Spanish) and James Morrison. Only, when I transfer-listed all the key players – you know, Messi, Villa, Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol and the like – they didn’t particularly like it, and being a big softie, I was won over by a bunch of fictional CGI footballers.
So my response was to start this: another game, where I would manager Barcelona seriously, and try and improve on their disappointing season – tonight, of course, is the Copa del Rey final, where Barca will face Athletic Bilbao for their first trophy since the Club World Championship was secured last year. I started it under the name of Gary Speed, as I don’t like starting a new game under my own name alongside having a World Class reputation. I started it in January so it’s with the basic patches. Also I’ll add a disclaimer that I didn’t necessarily not cheat (I did but only a couple of times, where I felt there had been considerable injustice).
05/07 – Gary Speed is a shock appointment as the replacement for Josep Guardiola as Barcelona manager. The Wales national team manager steps back into club management to replace the Spaniard, who had announced his intention to leave after the Champions League Final victory over Manchester United a month previously. Speed will now have the opportunity to further strengthen a squad recently boosted by the signings of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez, which were overseen by Guardiola in the interim period.
24/07 – AC Milan centre-back Thiago Silva signs for Barcelona for £38.5 million. The signing of the Brazilian international, rated as one of the best defenders in the world, is a statement of intent from new boss Gary Speed, although he says the signing was organised by club president Sandro Rosell.
27/07 – Young winger Cristian Tello signs for Osasuna for £1.3 million.
14/08 – Barcelona lose Gary Speed’s first competitive game in charge 2-0 to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana, with goals from Kaka and Fabio Coentrao. Dani Alves is sent off. It is a disappointing start for Barca, who had previously gone unbeaten in their pre-season campaign.
17/08 – In the second leg of the Supercopa at the Camp Nou, Real Madrid edge to a 1-0 win courtesy of a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo, completing a 3-0 aggregate win and piling early pressure on Gary Speed.
24/08 – Just days before the start of the new season, Jonathan Soriano is sold by Barcelona to Villarreal for £1 million. Speed confirms his intention to sign another striker before the end of the transfer window.
26/08 – Barcelona snatch the UEFA Super Cup in Monaco with a 1-0 win over Porto. A dramatic stoppage time winner from young midfielder Thiago Alcantara seals the club’s first trophy success under Speed.
28/08 – Just two days after their Monaco triumph, Barcelona play their first league game under Speed, edging past Villarreal in a nervy display. The only goal comes from David Villa.
31/08 – On transfer deadline day, Barcelona surprisingly sign Federico Macheda on loan for the rest of the season from Manchester United. Speed suggests the young Italian offers something different to the other strikers the club currently has.
11/09 – League action resumes after an international break with Barcelona visiting San Sebastian, where they cruise to a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad. Villa grabs two, Messi gets his first goal of the seeason, and Gerard Pique also scores.
14/09 – In Gary Speed’s first Champions League match in charge, Barcelona beat Partizan 2-0 in Belgrade with a goal from Messi and an own goal from Moreira. Barca will also face Shakhtar and Udinese in their group.
17/09 – Osasuna are the next visitors to Camp Nou and are dispatched 4-0, courtesy of David Villa and a Pedro hat-trick.
20/09 – Barcelona’s biggest league game of the season so far sees them travel to the Mestalla to face Valencia, struggling early on under Unai Emery. In an incredible display, Barca thrash them 7-0: Messi, Sanchez and Villa score 2 each, with the Chilean getting his first goals for his new club, and Iniesta also gets him name on the scoresheet. Valencia end the game with 10 men, compounding a miserable day for them. The results boosts Barca’s goal difference as they chase fellow fast-starters Real Madrid, currently banging in goals for fun.
24/09 – Another remarkable performance from Barca as they beat Atletico Madrid 6-0 at the Camp Nou. Villa gets another 2, taking his total to 8 from 5 league games. Pique also gets a rare double, and there are also goals from Xavi and Pedro.
27/09 – Udinese put up more of a fight than the previous two teams but are unable to stop Barca, who win 2-0, with Sanchez scoring against his former club and Messi getting another Champions League goal.
01/10 – A crucial day in La Liga. Barca travel to El Molinon where they edge past a resilient Sporting Gijon 3-1, with goals from Messi, Thiago Alcantara and Iniesta, while back in Barcelona, Espanyol beat Real Madrid 2-1, which puts Barca clear at the top for the first time this season.
15/10 – After another international break, Barca emerge rampant once again, beating Racing Santander 4-0 at the Camp Nou. Federico Macheda scores his first goal for the club, and he is joined on the scoresheet by Pedro, Villa and young defender Marc Bartra.
18/10 – In another Champions League tie, Barca pick up their third win of the campaign with a 3-0 win over Shakhtar. An own goal from Pyatov sets them on their way, followed by goals from Iniesta and Messi
23/10 – Another mighty display from Barca as they destroy Sevilla. The scoreline finishes at 8-1: Villa and Messi get hat-tricks, along with a Spahic own goal and Macheda.
26/10 – In the first round of the Copa del Rey, Barca draw Segunda B side Deportivo Alaves, the former UEFA Cup runners-up. But there is to be no romantic success for the underdog in the Basque Country, despite providing a stiff fight. Barca win 3-1, with goals from Pedro and 2 from Macheda. This despite Puyol’s sending off for a professional foul.
30/10 – Michael Laudrup’s Mallorca are Barca’s next opponents at the Camp Nou and are once again ruthlessly disposed of. It finishes 4-1: Villa picks up another hat-trick and Xavi also scores.
02/11 – A minor slip from Barca in Donetsk as Willian equalises in stoppage time to give Shakhtar a 2-2 draw after an enthralling contest. But the draw is enough to confirm Barca’s place in the Second Round once again. Pedro and Messi are the Barca scorers.
06/11 – A day after a shock defeat for Real Madrid to in-form Osasuna at the Bernabeu, Barca travel to Bilbao to face Athletic. Messi, Bartra, an own goal from Mikel San Jose and Macheda are on the scoresheet to give them another 4-1 win.
09/11 – Alaves travel to the Camp Nou in the hope of an unlikely upset, but their hopes are quickly extinguished. Barca win 6-1, with Afellay and Villa getting 2 each and further goals from Pedro and an own goal from David Rangel. Meanwhile, there is managerial bloodshed in La Liga as three managers are sacked within 5 days: Manuel Pellegrini of Malaga, Marcelino of Sevilla and Javier Aguirre of Real Zaragoza. Before the next round of matches, Quique Flores is appointed as manager of Malaga, while Sevilla appoint Rafa Benitez.
19/11 – Zaragoza now travel to Catalonia for their first game under new manager Victor Hernandez, beginning a crucial series of games for Barca against sides at the bottom of the league. The strugglers slump to another defeat. But aside from the fact that the scoreline is only 3-1, there is bad news for Barca, as Iniesta, scorer of the second goal (Villa and Messi also score), his injured late on. It transpires that he has a broken leg and will be out for up to 6 months, a severe blow: his 10 assists had been crucial to Barca’s run of success. However, there is brighter news as Real Madrid are held by Valencia at the Mestalla, securing Emery’s job for now. The gap between the top 2 teams continues to grow.
22/11 – Another victory for Barca in the Champions League, but it is again a struggle. Keita, with his first of the season, and Messi fire the home side to a 2-1 win over Partizan, but the Serbian side’s goal makes it 8 matches without a clean sheet for the dominant Los Cules.
26/11 – Barca finally get that clean sheet in their next match in Madrid against struggling Getafe, although the win is an uncomfortable 2-0, with goals from Pedro and Thiago Silva, the Brazilian scoring his first goal for the club.
30/11 – Another struggling side in the form of Granada is next, as Barca head to Andalusia. Cesc Fabregas finally gets his first goal of the season, while David Villa scores yet again. Just 2-0 again, though. Meanwhile, there is good news from the Bernabeu as Real Madrid lose again at home, this time 3-2 to Villarreal.
03/12 – The final match in the run of strugglers for Barca is Levante at the Camp Nou, and once again it is a stuttering Barca who cannot find their magic touch of earlier in the year. Federico Macheda scores the deciding goal. Levante end the game with 10 men. A day later, Luis Garcia is sacked by Getafe.
06/12 – The final Champions League group game is in Udine, with Barca back to their best with a 5-0 win. Sanchez again scores against his former club, along with 2 each from Villa and Messi. The Italians head for the Europa League as Shakhtar progress to the Second Round. Meanwhile, Valencia sack Unai Emery after their disastrous Champions League campaign comes to an end with just 3 points.
10/12 – El Clasico: La Liga ends for Barces for the winter break with the toughest opponent of them all, only one now lagging behind due to those slip-ups. It is a tense, nervy game for the majority, until Carles Puyol, of all people, heads Barca in front late on. A second from Villa settles it. Barca have their first Clasico win under Speed. Real slip to 3rd in the table, overtaken by Real Sociedad, currently on an incredible run of form that goes back to the aftermath of their 4-1 defeat to Barca in the second round of matches.
The interim period sees two managerial appointments – Manuel Pellegrini returns to La Liga with Getafe, while Martin O’Neill is appointed as Valencia’s new manager.
14/12 – Barca now head for Japan for the Club World Championship, facing Al-Gharafa in the semi-final. Amazingly they are unable to break down the resilient Qataris, and it takes until extra time for them to seize the win and a place in the final. The entrances of Messi, who scores 2, and Pedro, who also grabs one, prove crucial.
17/12 – The final in Yokohama is not against Santos as had been expected. The Brazilians were knocked out by Mexico’s CF Monterrey, who like Al-Gharafa put up a stern defence in the face of a strong Barca side. Again it goes to extra time, with Sanchez and Messi grabbing the goals that clinches Barca’s second Club World Championship success and Speed’s second trophy win.
21/12 – After returning to Spain, Barca’s final game before the winter break is the first leg of their Fifth Round Copa del Rey tie against Segunda B’s Ponferradina, the smallest club left in the competition getting a dream draw. Seydou Keita, an own goal from Quintana and Macheda seal a 3-0 win for the giants.
02/01 – Carlos Tevez completes his move from Manchester City to Barcelona for £25.5 million. The striker had been marginalised in England, and brings a new striking option to Barca for Gary Speed, who had negotiated the deal some time earlier.
04/01 – Tevez makes his Barca debut at home to Ponferradina, and, predictably, gets on the scoresheet with the fifth and final goal. A 5-0 win, with 2 each from Sanchez and Afellay, secures an 8-0 aggregate win. O’Neill’s Valencia await in the Quarter-Finals.
07/01 – El Derbi Barceloni against Espanyol at Cornella-El Prat, and another pleasing result for the Barca fans, now in awe of Speed’s success. Villa, Messi and Silva are the scorers as the visitors win 3-0.
11/01 – Not even Martin O’Neill can find a way of stopping Barca. After the thumping earlier in the season, though, 5-0 is progress from 6-0. Villa gets 2, while Afellay continues his great run of scoring in the cup. Puyol and Pedro also score. Barca can touch the Semi-Finals. In the other big quarter-final, 2nd meets 3rd at the Bernabeu, and amazingly it ends in a 6-6 draw, giving hope to Real Sociedad.
14/01 – Barca have now clearly rediscovered their magic touch of earlier in the season. Real Betis are the next visitors, currently in the middle of a club record run of games without victory. They are smashed 6-0. Tevez and Messi score 2 each, Bartra is the only Spanish scorer and Sanchez also adds his name to the list. The club also parade new signing Arne Friedrich at half-time, the German international having signed on a free transfer.
18/01 – After that run of 8 matches without a clean sheet, Barca had now gone 12 without conceding a goal, but this run comes to an end at the Mestalla. But conceding goals is no worry for this Barca side: despite conceding 2 for the first time since the draw in Donetsk, they score 4, courtesy of Sanchez, Thiago Alcantara, Xavi and Villa, securing a 9-2 aggregate win. That makes it 15 goals scored in the 3 matches against Valencia this season, with another to come. Elsewhere, Real Sociedad hold Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw at home, knocking out last year’s cup winners on away goals. They will face the only Segunda side left, Numancia. Barca face Villarreal.
21/01 – A difficult trip to La Rosaleda follows. Big spenders Malaga haven’t been doing as well as planned but provide a tough test for Barca. Going into stoppage time, it is still 0-0, but in an almost-identical replay of the UEFA Super Cup Final, a cross from the left finds Thiago Alcantara, to secure Barca’s 18th win in a row in both the league and all competitions.
25/01 – The first of 3 matches in a row against Villarreal takes place at El Madrigal, the first leg of the Copa del Rey Semi-Final. Despite the sending-off of Sanchez, Barca cruise to a 3-0 win with goals from Macheda, Villa and a first goal of the season for Dani Alves, putting them on course for the final. In the league, Real Madrid slip up again with a 2-2 draw against Athletic in Bilbao, but Real Sociedad slip up at home to Sporting and draw 1-1.
28/01 – In the league encounter, Barca put out a full strength side, and win at a canter again, securing a 19th win from 19 as they hit half-distance. A Carlos Marchena own goal sets them rolling, followed by a first Barcelona goal for the outstanding Abidal. Messi scores the third, while Sanchez gets revenge for his red card with the fourth. 4-0.
01/02 – At the Camp Nou, Villarreal put up more of a fight than in the previous two matches, but still can’t prevent the inevitable. Goals from Pedro and Macheda give Barca a 2-1 win, 5-1 on aggregate, and put them one match away from another trophy. Their opponents in the final are Real Sociedad, who also happen to be their opponents in their next league game. The Basque team are now 12 points behind Barca, having played a game more.
Other information – Champions League Second Round draw
Chelsea vs Bayern Munich
Villarreal vs Internazionale
Bayer Leverkusen vs Manchester United
AC Milan vs Borussia Dortmund
Benfica vs Real Madrid
FC Basel vs Manchester City
Porto vs Barcelona
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Arsenal
Barcelona top scorers (all competitive matches)
David Villa – 27
Lionel Messi – 23
Pedro – 12
Alexis Sanchez – 10
Federico Macheda – 9
Ibrahim Afellay – 5
Thiago Alcantara – 4
Andres Iniesta – 4
La Liga top scorers
Cristiano Ronaldo – 24
David Villa – 19
Gonzalo Higuain – 18
Falcao – 16
Xabi Prieto – 15
Lionel Messi – 13
Fernando Llorente – 10
Carlos Vela – 10
Gaizka Toquero – 10