The Soccer Manager 2016 Challenge: January

Posted on 23rd November 2015


The term ‘World XI’ and Watford FC might appear to be as dubious a partnership as Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier, but the newly promoted Premier League outfit are notorious for their global range of players.

Loading up their squad list at the start of Soccer Manager 16 reveals an astonishing TWENTY THREE different nationalities.

here are more tongues going on than a youth disco.

Which prompts the obvious challenge – give the Watford squad a homegrown overhaul, while avoiding relegation.

Without wanting to sound like a questionable UKIP campaign, my mission is to transform the Hornets’ line-up to contain players solely from English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh or Northern Irish backgrounds.

It’s something approaching mission impossible – I’m no Tom Cruise, but I am similarly diminutive, which should qualify me for a starring role.


To read December’s diary, click here.

New year, new start-ing keeper? Not likely. I throw the money at various upgrades on poor old Paul Robinson (82), but no one’s interested.

Even Derby – for whom I bid on both keepers, Scott Carson (86) and Lee Grant (85) – tell me they can’t afford to let either player go due to a lack of cover.

Seems legit.

Our first match of 2016 is against Leicester City at home, with new signings Craig Gardner and Scott Dann taking spots on the bench.

An early Scott Sinclair penalty is enough for victory, with a clean sheet very welcome.

After the match, we add a third new signing, with Charlie Adam (87) arriving for £1.8million, and he goes straight into the line up for the trip to Norwich.

Troy Deeney (85) starts after an injury to Shane Long, but the club captain comes off too, leaving Callum McManaman leading the line.

It’s Sinclair, again, who’s taking charge, though, notching twice as we cruise towards three more points – until our hosts to score twice in as many minutes.

It’s a low blow – especially as Robinson has a match rating of 9 – but all is soothed when Steven Davis pops up with a last-gasp winner.

The party is in full swing on the coach home when the physio nervously taps me on the shoulder – causing me to spill some of my G&T tinny – going on to burst my balloon entirely with news that Deeney is out for ten weeks.

I turn the boombox off and get on the phone, and have done a deal for a replacement by the time we’re back in Hertfordshire

As we pull up alongside Vicarage Road, under the cover of darkness, a giant walking pencil appears to be waiting for us – it’s new striker Peter Crouch (88).

He hops onto the coach, before we turn back around and head north – Newcastle our destination.

Crouchy gets the nod on Shane Long – well, he is at least a foot taller.

He barely gets a kick on his debut, though, as Newcastle control proceedings, and are two up inside twenty minutes.

This time, there’s no two-goal comeback, or boombox playlists on the journey home.

Back up players Tommie Hoban, Ikechi Anya and Craig Cathcart are sold off to generate a bit of cash. It produces enough to splash out on a luxury signing, capturing Ashley Young (90) for £5.8million.

The trip to West Ham comes too soon for him, as he recovers from an existing injury – he’d want to make his bow in front of the home fans, anyway.

His presence in the stands, though, is enough to inspire on-pitch success – as wonder wingers Sinclair (88) and Routledge each score inside fifteen minutes.

The Hammers get one back through Pedro Obiang, but Sinclair’s second secures another victory.

It’s the former Villa man’s ninth of the season, and his £5million capture is looking a bargain – he’s now valued at £7.43million.

Sinclair scores again in our next fixture, with Palace in town, while Routledge’s injury gives Young a debut from the bench. Long and Dwight Gayle exchange matching goals, but it’s back-to-back victories for the mighty Watford.

We’re ninth with 34 points and heavy nosebleeds from flying so high.

Deadline day brings only departures – the now out of favour Ben Watson shipping off to West Brom, and the frankly useless Lloyd Dyer heading for Argentina. God knows.

Watford, meanwhile, are heading for glory. Ish.

About the author – Lee Price

Lee Price is a journalist and author with a passion for football, and crucially, virtual football management.

twitter: @Lee_Price



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