In a break from the usual series of the FM17 Project – Simon Harrison has an almighty challenge ahead as Manager of Granada in our latest FM17 Extra!! Can he fare better than Tony Adams???
Here we go!
The situation is bleak. Granada sit bottom of the table with just 24 points from 31 games – but we can at least jump as high as 18th if we win our game in hand.
Leganes, Alaves, Sporting Gijon and Real Betis are all down there with us. We will clamber over their struggling bodies until I stand atop of them triumphantly, waving a large flag bearing Tony Adams’ face.
I tell the press that we are going to keep things tight at the back, but I decide not to go as far as saying I’ll be giving the players “a kick up the arse”.
That isn’t to say my methods won’t be strict, however. Training is being intensified with a strong focus on defensive work. Team talks will be pointedly passionate; the first battle that needs to be won is in our minds.
Deportivo La Coruña are my first opponents, before tough tests against Espanyol, Real Madrid and Celta Vigo. After that, home games against fellow strugglers Leganes and Alaves offer hope of salvation. But to achieve survival, I’m going to need a crack team around me.
Nigel Reo-Coker has sadly retired from playing, while Kieran Richardson is halfway through a contract at Montreal Impact. Reo-Coker has been working on his badges, though, so I make my move by offering him the assistant manager position.
Paul Scholes is also set to come in as an attacking coach. He’s bound to offer blunt advice on what I’m doing wrong and what the players are saying about me on the training ground. I have a feeling I’m going to have to be thick skinned in this role.
There isn’t much time to prepare for the Deportivo clash. I opt for a four-man defence, a four-man midfield and, you guessed it, a two-man strike force. Rene Krhin and Uche Agbo make up a tough-tackling central midfield two, with Mubarak Wakaso and Mehdi Carcela used as flying wingers.
Adrian Ramos, who has 15 goals to his name for the season already, partners Artem Kravets up front. We’ve got the small matter of 13 loanees in the match-day squad, including Manchester United youngster Andreas Pereira.
We’re going back to the basics for the Deportivo clash. It’s route one, pumping the ball into the box and getting stuck in. If we’re going down, it won’t be without a fight. Tight marking is engaged, and closing down is ramped up to more often.
The players seem to be up for the game after a rousing pre-match teamtalk. These lot would run through brick walls for me already. I’m all they’ve got after a dismal season so far.
We make a bright start, Adrian Ramos thumping home a low shot from a Mubarak Wakaso cross in the 10th minute. On 17 minutes, it’s 2-0, Ramos racing clear to slot the ball in the net. I offer plenty of encouragement from the sideline, and Deportivo have no answer for our flying 4-4-2.
Wakaso is a menace down the left-hand side, with both Kravets and Ramos denied by good reflex saves in the second half. Somehow, we limit Deportivo to only threatening through set pieces. And that’s all they do by the time the full-time whistle blows.
What a three points, and a clean sheet to boot. We leap off the bottom of the table and into, ahem, 19th. But it’s what this result symbolises that really matters. There’s life in this Granada team. We’re only one point off 17th-placed Sporting Gijon.
I celebrate the result by ditching my assistant manager for Nigel Reo-Coker. There’s a long way to go yet but it’s a positive start.