I know, I know…it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. Sadly the fun Nantes save died the “corruption” death (not the FIFA kind) when I was flying back from Germany in late March. Since then I’ve been struggling to find a fun “side save” to play alongside my Hamburg YouTube series (you can find it HERE) when I don’t have time to record, edit, etc.
Finally though I got some inspiration from some FM saves I’ve been watching on YouTube. The lower league saves from The Northman (see HERE), Loki Doki (see HERE) and Second Yellow Card (see HERE) made me really think about taking the plunge into lower league management with a semi-professional or amateur club. Many of you will probably be thinking: “What’s the big deal?” Well for me, it sort of is. I’ve always thought about doing a “LLM” save, but have never really found any enjoyment in it and scrapped most saves after the preseason. This time however I decided to just go for it and see where it takes me.
So I had decided LLM is for me. But the next big question was where to start. I wanted somewhat of a challenge, but didn’t want to go the British route. I also wanted it to be in the vanilla game so that a screwed up database wouldn’t kill an enjoyable save and ruin my first real LLM experience.
The Norther Lights
In homage to my friend Paul “The Northman”, and because I always loved traveling there, I picked Norway. The club I landed on was Alta IF, playing in the 3rdtier (2. Divisjon Avd. 1).
Alta are the most northern club in Norway (and possibly the game) that one can pick. Known for the amazing display of the northern lights and an awesome ice hotel, taking this provincial club to the top of Norwegian football seemed like it could be fun. I’m taking some inspiration from clubs like Freiburg, Sassuolo and Eibar in this regard.
Alta IF play their home matches indoors in the 1,500 seater Finnmarkshallen, which makes the club even more appealing in my eyes.
Now this update won’t go into the minutia of the club and squad, since I expect many changes over the first few years. We have a number of players on amateur/non-contract basis and this might continue for a few seasons. That being said, there are a few players that I wanted to mention as they are our “young ‘uns” at the club and I’m hoping to keep ahold of them and see them develop over the seasons.
The Young ‘Uns
Sometimes Football Manager surprises me in a good way, and having Christian Åsheim as a newgen to start the save with is certainly that. But wait, there’s more…
Kenneth Giæver and Rune Malm are two additional newgens that started at the club and will be quickly advancing to the senior squad. I’m still putting together a development plan for Malm, as I’d like to have him play more centrally as well (you’ll see why in a bit).
Marco Mauno Johannessen is a real life player for Alta that I’m very excited about. His development will be fun to watch.
Vegard the Viking
Now every Norse saga has its heroes, and mine is Vegard “the Viking” Braaten. 30 years old at the start of the 2018 season, I quickly gave him a permanent contract as he’s the biggest “star” at the club and one that can carries us through the leagues.
Vegard didn’t disappoint, scoring 33 goals in 28 matches (plus 5 assists) and an average rating of 7.60. Together with his strike partner Magnus Nikolaisen (16 goals & 9 assists in 28 matches and a 7.24 average rating), they were a counter-attacking dream.
Being semi-professional, located remotely, having a low reputation and very little in the way of money, my transfer targets for Alta IF were rather limited.
Therefore, the only two incoming were Peter Aas and Vetle Vinje. Unfortunately, Vetle had an injury-plagued campaign and as thus won’t be mentioned much in this update. Peter Aas however was a different story.
22 year-old Aas proved a vital asset. His flexibility and talent gave us another arrow in our quiver for our ever-evolving tactics.
I usually go into a save with a clear tactical philosophy and then build a squad to match that relatively quickly. Well seeing as that Alta are semi-professional with limited funds, I had to adapt my tactics to fit my squad.
I started the season with this version of a 4-3-3. It was doing well, but then some key injuries forced my hand to make some changes.
Next up was this version of a 4-2-2-2. It was a devastating counter-attacking tactic that ravaged opposition defenses. Sadly, yet again injuries forced me to rethink my approach.
We ended the season with this 4-3-1-2. It was great to watch. This tactic gave us the control of the 4-3-3, coupled with the counter-attacking edge of the 4-2-2-2. The two Advanced Forwards capitalized from the raking “pass into space” passes coming out of midfield, but also from the deeper lying full backs. The pace and power of Braaten and Nikolaisen were too much to handle for most opponents.
The combination of all three of these tactics led to a great inaugural season at Alta IF.
The 2018 Season
We had a great season with many thrilling matches (none more so than the 5-3 versus Hønefoss). Frederikstad were the powerhouse of the league. The only professional club in our division, they dominated most opponents…luckily for us.
With Frederikstad running away with the league, it quickly became a race for 2ndplace and the promotion playoffs. Going down the stretch it was a battle between us and Elverum. Equal on points with two matches left, I thought we had bottled it after throwing away a 2-0 lead against Moss on the penultimate match day. Fortunately, Elverum faced Frederikstad on the last match day. Whilst we dispatched Hønefoss 3-1, the league champions did the same with Elverum by a soreline of 2-0.
So there you have it, Alta IF finished the season in second place, 1 point clear of Elverum. Next up was the promotion playoff. The new system in Norway is comprised of a 2-leg playoff between the two 2ndplaced teams from the two third divisions. The winner of that playoff then faces the 14thplaced team from the 2ndtier, the OBOS-ligaen. This season saw us take on KFUM Oslo. The winner would then move on to play two legs against HamKam.
We were able to defeat KFUM Oslo 6-3 on aggregate after two thrilling matches. Next up…HamKam and the possible promotion to the OBOS-ligaen.
Despite a dominant performance in the first leg, we simply couldn’t get that much needed goal. The task at hand was to secure a result away from home.
On a rain soaked evening in Hamar, who else but Vegard Braaten gave us the golden goal in the 83rdminute that sent us up into the 2nddivision. As you can see, it was an ugly match that featured 34 fouls. HamKam did a great job in disrupting our passing and build-up play, but a late punt up the pitch and a signature Braaten finish sent the whole town of Alta into party mode.
Now what? I wasn’t expecting promotion in my first season with Alta IF. We did it, and we did it with attacking flair. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue this in the OBOS-ligaen, where we face such formidable opponents as Frederikstad, Bodø/Glimt and Viking. It won’t be easy, but with a few additions I think we might have enough to stay up and build for the future.
The Son of Thor
In closing, I wanted to show you my Norwegian alter ego, Magnus Thorsen. I’m a big fan of how FM Grasshopper (check out his work HERE) creates a manager and a narrative around his character. I’m attempting to do the same with the “son of Thor” in Norway. An aggressive, all-conquering Norseman persona in the world of Football Manager is a fun approach for me…ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK!!!