FIFA World Cup 2018 Final: Spain 3-1 Italy

Spain have won their second World Cup after a 3-1 win over Italy in Moscow tonight, their second time lifting the famous trophy and their fourth major international honour in ten years. Llorente’s first-half brace helped inflict a second consecutive Final defeat on Italy after they lost to Brazil in 2014.

Four changes for Spain after their semi-final win over holders Brazil: Víctor Ruiz, Juan Mata, Cesc Fàbregas and Rodrigo were all restored to the side in place of Thiago, César Azpilicueta, Rubén Pardo and Jesús Navas.

Just two changes for Italy from the side who beat Argentina: Sebastian Giovinco started up front and Antonio Nocerino returned after suspension, replacing Gianluca Caprari and Claudio Marchisio respectively.

Spain rocked the stadium by scoring the second-fastest goal in a World Cup Final, with just 01:52 on the clock when they took the lead. It started at the back for Italy when ‘keeper Sirigu played the ball to Criscito who was caught napping by Rodrigo.

He played it square to Fabregas who knocked it high into the box. Juan Mata met the delivery, heading back across goal to the far post where Fernando Llorente rose above Bonucci and Astori and looped his header past Sirigu.

Just before the half-hour mark, Llorente doubled the lead. Sergio Ramos, already cautioned, timed his strong challenge on Criscito on the Italian left flank to perfection and found Rodrigo marauding up the wing. He looked up before flighting a ball over the top for Fernando Llorente to out-pace his man and slot home a second.

Five minutes before the break, Llorente nearly had his hat-trick. Fàbregas robbed Poli in the centre-circle and sent the ball clean through to the Milan man, but 1-on-1 with Sirigu he sent the ball inches wide.

Italy had to come flying out of the traps after the break, and were nearly back in the game in the 54th minute when Faraoni headed Chiellini’s long-throw onto the underside of the crossbar before Ramos dived to clear the ball off the line. If Italy started to believe today wouldn’t be their day, then Spain confirmed it just 90 seconds later.

Jordi Alba won a corner for Spain on their right, and took it himself. Pique flicked-on at the near post and Álvaro Dominguez arrived at the far post to bundle home his first senior international goal as Spain became only the third team to hold a 3-0 lead in a World Cup Final (after 1982 and 1998).

Late on, Giuseppe Rossi came within inches of moving level with Chilean striker Diego Rubio on six goals for the tournament when he smashed a 25-yarder against the woodwork. The bar was probably still rattling when Italy scored a consolation in the 88th minute.

Poli won the ball from Fàbregas on halfway and found Giovinco. He did all the work for the Italian left before picking out Giacomo Bonaventura who took a touch before letting fly with a daisy-cutter that crept in by Casillas’s right-hand post for the Pescara midfielder’s first senior goal for Italy.

Gerard Pique lifted the trophy for Spain who won 6 of their 7 matches here in Russia, only being held by Uruguay in a stalemate back in the group stage. Their UEFA Championship qualifiers begin in September after friendlies against Brazil and Argentina in August.

                   FIFA WORLD CUP 2018: FINAL
                        SPAIN 3-1 ITALY
               Llorente 2, 28     Bonaventura 88
                 Domínguez 56

                        Ramos     Chiellini
                      Iniesta
                     Fàbregas
                    Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

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Uruguay Beat Hosts In Toulon Tournament Final

Uruguay have won the Tournoi Maurice Revello – more commonly known as the Toulon Tournament – the invitational competition held annually in Provence, southern France, for Under-20 international teams.

In their first-ever appearance at the tournament, Uruguay beat Australia (2-0) and Paraguay (4-0) before drawing two-apiece with France to top their group. Norway awaited in the semis, and Uruguay comfortably won 4-1 despite being behind inside a minute. The other semi saw hosts France beat the Netherlands on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Uruguay took the lead in the 13th minute when Danilo Vicente lofted a ball out wide to the left from the centre circle towards Defensor Sporting winger Álvaro de Armas. His sublime first touch allowed him to wrong-foot the right-back and cut inside the box, Arjen Robben style, before drilling low past the French ‘keeper.

A second goal came in the 38th minute when Walter Demarco sent Sebastián Peña clear down the right wing. He reached the goal-line and sent the ball across the six-yard box where Leonardo Fernández of Rampla Juniors had the simplest of finishes at the far post.

Despite France testing Juan Cáceres six times in the Uruguay goal, de Armas nearly made it three on the hour-mark when he hit the crossbar with an audacious 40-yard lob as the hosts fell asleep at a goal-kick. Les Bleus had no answer in the remaining half-hour, and Uruguay went on to lift the trophy.

Earlier in the day, the Netherlands won the third-place playoff against Norway courtesy of a single goal from Heracles centre-back Henk Koeman midway through the first-half.

Uruguay’s Julio Amado (Rampla Juniors) was voted player of the tournament, while French pair Joseph Bako (Stade Rennais) and Ludovic Autret (Monaco) were named top scorer and best goalkeeper respectively.

                TOULON TOURNAMENT 2018: FINAL
                 FRANCE U20  0 - 2  URUGUAY U20
                                    de Armas 13
                                    Fernández 38
                                                   Att: 2,624
       Stade Mayol, Toulon. Dry 18°C. Referee: D.Gomes

Catch-Up: Y Is For… Youth Tournaments

Here we go! The final part of our catch-up series covering all the important news from three simulated seasons from June 2015 until now. There’s no entry for Z, so we’ll finish with ‘Y’ which is for Youth. We’ll take a look at the 2016 Olympics, 2017 U20 World Cup, and three years of the Toulon Tournament.

Argentina lifted their third Olympic Games title in four editions, with a win over hosts Brazil in August 2016. The 2004 and 2008 champions were able to call on Lionel Messi, Javier Pastore, and Sergio Agüero as their overage players for the U23 tournament, and it was a brace from the latter that won them gold.

Their campaign began with a 2-1 win over Denmark, followed by a 5-0 thumping of group whipping boys Fiji. They then beat Australia 2-0 to set-up a Quarter-Final against Nigeria, which they won 2-1. Cameroon were beaten 2-0 in the Semis, before Agüero’s brace won gold against Brazil with a 2-1 win.

The 2020 Olympics will be held in Istanbul*

OLYMPIC GAMES 2016
 Group A                    Group B
  1. Argentina   9 pts       1. France          9 pts
  2. Australia   6 pts       2. Nigeria         6 pts
  3. Denmark     3 pts       3. Japan           3 pts
  4. Fiji        0 pts       4. United States   0 pts

 Group C                    Group D
  1. Colombia    9 pts       1. Mexico          9 pts
  2. Brazil      6 pts       2. Cameroon        4 pts
  3. Ghana       3 pts       3. Italy           3 pts
  4. China       0 pts       4. Kuwait          1 pt

 Quarter-Finals
    Nigeria 1 - 2 Argentina
   Colombia 1 - 2 Cameroon
     France 3 - 0 Australia
     Brazil 1 - 1 Mexico (8 - 7 penalties)

 Semi-Finals
  Argentina 2 - 0 Cameroon
     Brazil 2 - 0 France

 Bronze Medal Match (3rd Playoff)
     France 2 - 1 Cameroon (aet)

 Gold Medal Match (Final)
     Brazil 1 - 2 Argentina

Portugal won the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup held in England, being the first European winners of the tournament since Spain in 1999. It was Portugal’s third time lifting the trophy after back-to-back wins in 1989 and 1991. Argentina would win their seventh title in 2017 (held in Switzerland) to move one clear of Brazil in the all-time records. Both finals finished 2-2 and went to penalties.

The annual invitational U21 youth tournament in Provence often features gifted youngsters who go on to make names for themselves at a senior level. Argentina became the first team to reach three consecutive finals since France made four in a row (2004-07, winning all four).

This year’s final will take place on Friday 15 June between France and Uruguay. The third-place playoff will be between Norway and Netherlands. France and Uruguay were in the same group and drew 2-2 with the South American side topping the group after wins over Poland and Australia.

France beat Netherlands on penalties in their semi-final, with Uruguay beating Norway 4-1.

TOULON TOURNAMENT FINALS
 2015:  Italy 0 - 2 Argentina
 2016: Mexico 1 - 2 Argentina
 2017: France 1 - 0 Argentina
 2018: France v. Uruguay

RTFM is returning after a hiatus since we resigned as manager of Borussia Dortmund at the end of June 2015. The three seasons since then have been fully simulated in the original FM13 save, right up to the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Our daily news will return on 15 June 2018, with regular blog posts between now and then to highlight what’s happened in our absence.
NB: The entirety of RTFM is being played on Football Manager 2013. Regen players will have ® after their names to indicate this. Be aware that changes to competition rules since the summer of 2012 will not have been implemented in our save (e.g. UEL winners do not automatically qualify for the UCL), and this includes any new clubs or franchises, though we will endeavour to report on correct/current competition titles.
* The announcement of Tokyo as the “real” 2020 Olympic Games host was made in September 2013, almost a year after the release of FM13. Our save has scheduled the 2020 games as being held in Turkey.
We will return to club management after our save generates the domestic leagues we’ve selected for the 2018-19 season on, or shortly after, 20th June. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or @realtimefm.

 

Catch-Up ‘W’: WBA, WHam, Wigan, Wolves

It’s the penultimate part of our catch-up series, and today we’re looking at the four remaining sides who have played some part in the Premier League during our three simulated seasons from June 2015 to date. Today we focus on West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, my beloved Wigan Athletic, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Here’s how the teams fared in the Premier League table the last time we were playing daily, at the end of May 2015: WBA 9th, Wolves 12th, and Wigan 16th, while West Ham finished the season 7th in the Championship following their relegation the previous season.

2015-16

Alan Curbishley was in charge and he spent almost £20m in the summer to bring in players including Fábio (Blackburn, £6.5m), Adam Le Fondre (Reading, £4m), Francis Coquelin (Arsenal, £3.5m) and Christian Benteke (Villa, £4.6m). Over half was recovered in sale of several fringe players.

After qualifying for the Europa League as FA Cup runners-up (to Man City), they were paired with FC Groningen for a place in the Group Stage. WBA lost the first leg 0-2 in the Netherlands, but put in a cracking 3-0 win in the return leg at home to progress and be drawn alongside Basel, Trabzonspor, and Bulgarian side Litex.

The league season started with patchy results, and WBA also found themselves out of the League Cup at the first opportunity with defeat at Spurs, but the European campaign got off to a solid start with wins at Litex and Basel before defeat in Turkey. Five points from their final three games was enough to put them through to the knockout phase.

December was a bad month for the club however, and after nine games without a win, Curbishley was sacked at Christmas to be replaced by Alan Shearer. His first game in charge would be at home to his boyhood club Newcastle, and WBA came from behind to win 3-2.

FA Cup 3rd Round defeat followed at Portsmouth, before the club exited the Europa League in the last 32 following a 1-1 home draw, and then a 1-4 defeat to Pescara. Only four more defeats came in the club’s final twelve league games of the season and they finished a steady 14th.

2016-17

The following season saw a quiet transfer window, and a bang-average season on all fronts. Once again out of the League Cup at the first hurdle (at home to Millwall), and didn’t record a league win until a 5-1 win over Fulham on the last day of September. Every short unbeaten run of 3/4 matches was followed by a pair of defeats and the club sat 10th at Christmas.

Replays were required to beat Aston Villa and then Brighton in the FA Cup before a 5th Round exit at Manchester City. The season petered out somewhat with the club picking up just 10 points from the last 33 available, and West Brom finished 12th.

2017-18

Tom Cleverley and Jack Butland arrived from Swansea for a combined £13m (which the club recouped in fringe player sales), with the club also signing Oriel Romeu from Chelsea for a fee of around £3m.

WBA lost three of their opening four league matches, but did finally make progress in the League Cup where they eventually went out on penalties to Manchester United in the Quarter-Finals in the club’s only defeat in a run of fourteen matches up to the end of the year.

FA Cup 3rd Round defeat came at Derby, and the club went on to pick-up 20 points from their last sixteen games to comfortably finish 10th in the league. Shearer remains in charge ahead of the new season, and Jonas Olsson is club captain.

2015-16

Gordon Strachan’s West Ham were facing a second season in the Championship after missing out on the Playoffs the previous season, but despite League Cup wins over Crystal Palace and Coventry, a poor start to the season a run of just one win in eight cost Strachan his job.

John Sheridan joined from Southend United to replace him and West Ham went on a stunning run of 12 wins in a row before defeat by Hull, and then a further 14 unbeaten after that. Home defeats by Cardiff and Birmingham would cost them top spot to Burnley before an eventual FA Cup 6th Round defeat to eventual winner Wolves.

Three wins and three draws ended the league season and West Ham would finish five points behind Burnley, but crucially two points clear of 3rd place Southampton, and the Hammers were back in the top flight!

2016-17

Come the New Year, West Ham only had five wins to their name in the Premier League and had been eliminated by Southampton in the League Cup. A thrilling 3-2 win over Arsenal came in the FA Cup before defeat at Man City.

A run of six straight defeats plunged West Ham perilously close to the bottom three, and come to final week of the season they were in the drop zone. A vital win came at top six Burnley before a point against Leicester set-up a winner stays up final day game at Bolton.

Robert Hall had the Hammers ahead inside two minutes. A Chris Eagles penalty quickly levelled things, before Marc Linighan and Marvin Sordell traded goals. The winner came around the hour mark when Johnny Russell slammed home from the edge of the box to lift West Ham to their final finishing spot of 17th, and relegate Bolton in front of their own fans.

2017-18

Sheridan spent over £30m last summer collecting some handy squad players such as Johnny Russell (Wigan), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Bolton), Asmir Begovic (Stoke), and Aaron Lennon (Liverpool). Grant Hanley was the biggest sale, moving to Villa for £7m.

I’m really bored of this. They finished 11th. 😂

I’ll expand on this at a later date. Just need to get all this stuff finished!

2015-16

Finished: 10th
FA Cup: 5th Round exit to Spurs
League Cup: Lost 2-4 in Final to Chelsea
Manager: Mark Hughes
Transfers: Cheikhou Kouyaté from Blackburn, £7m

2016-17

Finished: 14th
FA Cup: 5th Round exit to Hull
League Cup: Lost 0-1 in Final to Everton
Manager: Mark Hughes left for Wolves, replacement Roy Keane sacked in May

2017-18

Finished: 18th, relegated
FA Cup: Lost in 6th Round Replay at Sunderland
League Cup: Lost 0-3 at home to Fulham in 4th Round
Manager: Steve Clark appointed, replaced by Michael Appleton in February
Transfers: John Obi Mikel from Sevilla, £8m. Andy Carroll to Southampton, £4m

Again, will expand later. Apologies to any Wolves fans reading.

2015-16

Finished: 6th
FA Cup: Beat Spurs 2-0 in Final
League Cup:  Lost at Stoke in 3rd Round
Manager: Martin Jol, who left for England job after Euro 2016
Transfers: Artur Sobiech from Hannover, £15m

2016-17

Finished: 11th
Europa League: Lost in Last 16, 2-3 on aggregate to Porto
FA Cup: Lost in 3rd Round at Swansea
League Cup: Lost in 4th Round at Blackpool
Community Shield: Lost 1-2 to Tottenham
Manager: Gareth Southgate appointed
Transfers: Vladimir Darida from Zenit, £11m

2017-18

Finished: 12th
FA Cup: Lost in 5th Round at Sunderland
League Cup: Lost in 3rd Round at Bolton
Manager: Southgate sacked in November, Steve McClaren appointed
Transfers: Sean Murray to Aston Villa, £12m


RTFM is returning after a hiatus since we resigned as manager of Borussia Dortmund at the end of June 2015. The three seasons since then have been fully simulated in the original FM13 save, right up to the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Our daily news will return on 15 June 2018, with regular blog posts between now and then to highlight what’s happened in our absence.
NB: The entirety of RTFM is being played on Football Manager 2013. Regen players will have ® after their names to indicate this. Be aware that changes to competition rules since the summer of 2012 will not have been implemented in our save (e.g. UEL winners do not automatically qualify for the UCL), and this includes any new clubs or franchises, though we will endeavour to report on correct/current competition titles.
We will return to club management after our save generates the domestic leagues we’ve selected for the 2018-19 season on, or shortly after, 20th June. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or @realtimefm.

Catch-Up: T Is For… Tottenham Hotspur

Four days and four catch-up posts to go before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks-off in Russia, and we’re up to ‘T’ in the alphabet. There’s only one place we need to look today, and that’s towards Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal fans may want to stop reading now…

Our last look at Spurs at the end of the 2014-15 season saw André Villas-Boas’s side pip Swansea on the final day of the Premier League season to finish 4th before a last-gasp extra-time defeat by Chelsea in the Champions League Final in Istanbul.

2015-16

It was a busy summer for Spurs, with seven players joining the club for a total of £35m, with the club raising a similar amount in sales with eighteen other players leaving on loan deals and free transfers.

Ezequiel Cirigliano (Swansea, £16.5m) and Diego Rubio (Sporting, £12.5m) were the largest outlays, while Olivier Giroud joined from Bayern Munich in a straight swap for Magnus Wolff Eikrem. Leandro Damião would join on a free from Internacional at the end of the window.

FC Lorient were beaten 3-1 on aggregate to put Spurs into the Champions League Group Stage where they’d be drawn alongside Ajax, Rapid Vienna, and Inter Milan. 0-1 defeats at Inter, and at Wigan in the league, were the only blemishes on the calendar through to the end of October before a shootout loss at home to Brighton in the Carabao Cup.

A 2-3 defeat at Stoke proved to be Villas-Boas’s last game at Spurs, despite the club firmly top of the table. When Claudio Ranieri was sacked at Bayern Munich, the German club swooped for him. Slaven Bilic was appointed from Valencia to replace AVB. Spurs would win the first seven on the spin under Bilic, and go unbeaten in fifteen up to a shock 0-3 defeat at Swansea in early January 2016.

A run of thirteen consecutive wins would follow as the club would win their way through to the Champions League Quarter-Finals where they’d go out to Barcelona, and through to the FA Cup Final after beating Arsenal in the Semi.

Wolves would shock Spurs at Wembley with a 2-0 win but Spurs had the title sewn up at the end of March with a commanding lead at the top of the Premier League, that would be stretched to a whopping 23 points over eventual runners-up Manchester United. White Hart Lane hosted its final match as Spurs beat Norwich 3-1 on the final day.

2016-17

After a 2-1 Community Shield win over Wolves, Tottenham would move into their new stadium at Perryman Park with £50m of new arrivals in the squad. Davide Santon (Newcastle, £15m), Granit Xhaka (Gladbach, £16.5m) and Viktor Fischer (Dortmund, £13m) were the big names to join.

Ezequiel Cirigliano would leave after one season as he went to join the man who brought him to Spurs at Bayern Munich, with Tottenham also raising £12m with the sale of  Gylfi Sigurðsson to Manchester United.

In a quirk of fixture fate, Norwich City – the club who helped Tottenham wave farewell to White Hart Lane – would be the first visitors to new stadium Perryman Park, and a brace from Leandro Damião would see Spurs start their campaign with a 2-0 win. Juventus, Gladbach and Rapid Vienna (again) were drawn in the Champions League and it was the German side who fell upon the Spurs sword first as Tottenham ran out 6-0 winners away from home in their opening group match.

By the end of the year, Spurs were level with Chelsea and Man City in a three-way title tussle and comfortably through to the Champions League Knockout Rounds dropping just two points in their group (a 1-1 draw at Juventus). Spurs somewhat laboured through to the FA Cup 5th Round with wins over Everton and Blackpool before losing in a replay at home to Bolton.

Valencia were beaten in Europe, setting-up a Quarter-Final against Juventus. A Giroud hat-trick would help seal a 3-2 win in Turin, before a 1-1 draw back in London put them through to the Semi-Finals against Manchester United. Emmanuel Adebayor would cancel out Rodrigo’s early goal for United in the First Leg, before the return game at Old Trafford.

Adebayor opened the scoring before Rodrigo’s equaliser, and it was the Spanish striker who would put United in front on aggregate shortly after half-time. Tottenham had 42 minutes to score the one they needed to progress on away goals, but it wasn’t coming as United’s defence were holding firm in control of the game.

With one last gasp, Tom Huddlestone sent one long for Adebayor. A bad first touch took the ball away from him but Chris Smalling nor Phil Jones came to deal with it. One on one with David De Gea in stoppage time, it was now or never… and it was now. Adebayor slotted home for 3-3 on aggregate and Spurs were through to the Final against Marseille.

Domestically, Spurs would beat Chelsea at home but defeats at Fulham and Arsenal would put Chelsea four clear at the top. A home draw against WBA sent the title Chelsea’s way, while Spurs signed off their league campaign with a win over Man City to finish 2nd.

In Barcelona for the Champions League Final, Leandro Damião and Adebayor had Spurs 2-0 up by the 34th minute but Marseille got themselves back in the game shortly before half-time through Morgan Amalfitano. Adebayor made it 3-1 just three minutes after the interval, and while Marseille pulled another back with a Brown Ideye goal, Spurs went on to lift their first Champions League trophy.

2017-18

As European champions, Spurs could spend big to bring in a marquee signing and they spent £45m on 20-year old Real Madrid striker Iñigo®. Almost £30m was raised with the sales of Steven Caulker (Liverpool, £11m), Sime Vrsaljko (PG, £12m), and Diego Rubio (Corinthians, £7m).

Europa League winners Arsenal were beaten 3-2 in the UEFA SuperCup in Turkey as Spurs came from behind to win courtesy of a late Antonio Valencia strike.

By the end of November, Spurs had only suffered defeat three times: home to Chelsea in the Carabo Cup, home to Aston Villa (league), and at PSG en route to winning their Champions League group that also included Bayern Leverkusen and Polish side Strask Wroclaw.

Tottenham were hot favourites to become the first English side to win the FIFA Club World Cup since Man United in 2008. Qatari side Al-Sadd were beaten 4-0 in Doha with a Gareth Bale hat-trick and a strike from Iñigo, but São Paulo would win the Final in extra-time with Hugo Lloris’s unfortunate error the only goal of the game.

Back home, the club went back top of the table as they caught up their games in hand and Ipswich were brushed aside in the FA Cup before a 4th Round defeat at home to Leicester interrupted a run of ten unbeaten.

AC Milan were beaten 3-0 at home for a 4-1 aggregate victory, before a 2-2 draw at Barcelona in the Champions League Quarter-Finals. Unfortunately Spurs couldn’t become the first holders to retain the UCL title as Barça won 3-2 at Perryman Park to progress.

Spurs won three of their final five in the league, and a thumping 5-0 win at Stamford Bridge ended Chelsea’s title hopes as revenge for the previous season. Despite a 0-3 loss at Wigan, Tottenham would win the title by 5 points from Chelsea, with Man United and Man City 10 and 15 points behind respectively.

A pair of free transfers are set to go through on 01 July: Olivier Giroud will join Marseille, while Angel Di María will join from Real Madrid. Slaven Bilic remains in charge, with Younes Kaboul club captain.


RTFM is returning after a hiatus since we resigned as manager of Borussia Dortmund at the end of June 2015. The three seasons since then have been fully simulated in the original FM13 save, right up to the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Our daily news will return on 15 June 2018, with regular blog posts between now and then to highlight what’s happened in our absence.
NB: The entirety of RTFM is being played on Football Manager 2013. Regen players will have ® after their names to indicate this. Be aware that changes to competition rules since the summer of 2012 will not have been implemented in our save (e.g. UEL winners do not automatically qualify for the UCL), and this includes any new clubs or franchises, though we will endeavour to report on correct/current competition titles.
We will return to club management after our save generates the domestic leagues we’ve selected for the 2018-19 season on, or shortly after, 20th June. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or @realtimefm.

Catch-Up: N Is For… Newcastle & Norwich

We’re up to part ten of our brief look at what happened in the past three seasons in our RTFM save. Seven to go after this one before the World Cup starts in our unique style. Today we’re looking at N, which means Newcastle United and Norwich City. These posts are Premier League focused as that’s highly likely where we’ll return to club management. On with the N’s…

2015-16

Back in 2015, Newcastle finished 6th after a fantastic season under the stewardship of Stuart Pearce. The club spent £30m in the summer including the captures of Fábio Coentrão and Darren Fletcher (Manchester United), and Matt Phillips (Celtic).

With Europa League places going to Arsenal and WBA following their domestic cup wins, the Magpies were free to focus purely on the league, and built-up to the season with six unbeaten friendlies, and then… the proverbial hit the fan.

It took 14 games for Newcastle to record their first Premier League win, which came at the end of November at home to newly-promoted Blackpool. Up until then, the club’s only victories had come in the opening two rounds of the Carabao Cup, but progress to the Quarters was thwarted by Chelsea.

Pearce was relieved of his role, and replaced by Pasquale Marino who joined from Bologna. His first game in charge was a comprehensive 5-0 FA Cup Third Round win at home to Birmingham, but league results weren’t forthcoming with the club going seven matches without a win.

Norwich dumped them out the FA Cup, and the club could focus solely on their remaining sixteen league games. Wins against Bolton, Swansea, and Fulham gave Newcastle a chance at survival, but they couldn’t escape the bottom three. Defeats at home to Spurs and Liverpool proved the death kneel despite a final day win at Wigan.

Newcastle finished 18th – 9 points from safety – and were back in the Championship after six years in the top flight.

2016-17 

Following relegation, there was an exodus of players with 32 players leaving St James’ Park recouping £70m. Papiss Cissé left for Real Madrid (£10m), Fábio to West Ham (£6.5m), Balazs Dzsudzsak to Liverpool (£7m), and David Santon to Spurs (£15m) making up the majority of the income. Only one player arrived in the summer: Mehdi Benatia from Liverpool for £4m.

The season started well, with ten unbeaten at the start of the campaign before defeat in the Carabao Cup at Coventry. Newcastle remained in the top three but were blind-sided by manager Pasquale Marino’s departure for Aston Villa who had just sacked Steve McClaren.

Gary Bowyer took over in a caretaker role and the club were still able to convince Abdoul Camara to join from Marseille in a £6m January move. FA Cup wins over Reading and Blackburn came with goals from the new midfielder, but the club went out in the 5th Round at Southampton.

Able to concentrate solely on promotion, Newcastle went unbeaten in fourteen and stormed their way to the Championship title for the second time in seven seasons. Southampton and Playoff winners Cardiff would join them back in the top-flight.

2017-18

Bowyer relinquished his caretaker role, but remained as assistant with the club announcing that club legend and former manager Lee Clark would take the hotseat. His appointment allowed the spending of £35m in the summer with deals for a dozen players including the £7.5m purchase of Wilfried Zaha from Bolton.

Just three defeats in their opening eighteen matches got Newcastle off to a strong start, as they hovered around the top six until a disastrous December saw the club take just one win and a draw in seven games. The new year turned a corner as they went unbeaten through January and they were set to meet Arsenal in the Carabao Cup Semi-Finals.

First Leg 0-2 defeat at home looked to be the end of the cup run as two late Arsenal goals put the Londoners in charge of the tie, but Newcastle had other ideas. Camara scored inside two minutes in the away leg, and Darren Fletcher’s goal on the stroke of half-time put the wind up Arsenal.

Adam Campbell struck five minutes after the restart and Newcastle were flying. Chasing a goal to put them back in the tie, Arsenal were caught on the break and youngster Jimmy Salvin® scored on his début to seal a 4-0 win (4-2 on aggregate) and book a Final appearance against Stoke.

Juan Agudelo put Stoke ahead at Wembley early in the game, but teenage hero Salvin equalised inside the last fifteen minutes to force extra-time. It only took 65 seconds for one side to find the eventual winner, and it was Campbell who nodded home to win it for Newcastle for their first League Cup success.

A win, two draws and a defeat came in the following four games before a spectacular collapse of six straight defeats put Newcastle in the bottom three for the first time all season. Arsenal were beaten on the penultimate matchday leading to a final day winner-stays-up match at home to Wigan.

Ashley Harris and a brace from Wilfried Zaha had Newcastle 3-0 up inside half-hour before a late Wigan consolation that kept Newcastle up by 4 points and sent Wigan back to the Championship after thirteen seasons in the Premier League.

2015-16

Norwich sealed automatic promotion to the Premier League in 2015 under the guidance of Pat Fenlon, finishing behind Reading. A handful of modest signings arrived, with the board not willing to risk everything on a likely relegation scrap. But that’s not what they’d get…

An opening day win against Liverpool got Norwich on to a great start but what would follow were periods of five or six unbeaten, followed by half a dozen games where Norwich couldn’t buy a win. One win in ten in the new year saw them start to spiral down towards the bottom three, which saw Fenlon replaced by Alan Curbishley and four wins in six lifted them back to 11th where they’d finish the season.

2016-17

The board continued to play it safe in the summer transfer market with an outlay of just £15m being balanced against £13m of sales. Chris McCann (from Swansea, £2.5m) and Robert Snodgrass (to Everton, £3.5m) pretty much summing up the activity.

It took eight matches to get a win in the league, despite the side getting through to the Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals (where they lost to Spurs). Fortunes changed in the new year with just two defeats in twelve lifting Norwich out of the bottom three and buoyed by this new-found confidence wins came against both Sheffield clubs, Chelsea, Hull, and Liverpool as they booked a place in their first-ever FA Cup Final.

2015-winners Manchester City would await the Canaries at Wembley, a club sat second in the league a year after back-to-back Europa League Finals. After a goalless 90 minutes Marouane Fellaini gave City the lead but Ricky van Wolfswinkel had Norwich level before the extra-time break. Ángel, a £3m January capture from Blackpool, would score the winner for Norwich with just four minutes to play.

Three valuable points in May were enough to stay up by a single point as any two of seven clubs could have gone down on the final day.

2017-18

It was once again a summer of limited spending at Carrow Road, with Andreas Cornelius the only significant signing as he arrived in a £5m move from Everton. The season started with defeat at Wembley to Chelsea in the Community Shield.

Three wins and a draw got the league off to a near-perfect start, with the club sat 3rd in the table ahead of their first European jaunt since 1993. Drawn against Benfica, Dinamo Zagreb, and Olimpija Ljubljana, the club would open their campaign witha  draw in Slovenia followed by  brilliant 1-0 win at home to Benfica.

Norwich then beat Dinamo 2-0 both home and away, before Olimpija were dispatched 3-1 at Carrow Road to book a place in the knockout phases ahead of the final match in Portugal which Benfica won 2-0.

As of Boxing Day 2017, Norwich were sat 7th in the table but then went nine without a win and slipped to 14th and went out of the FA Cup away at third-tier Oxford United. The club were drawn with Schalke in the Europa League, and despite a 1-1 draw at home in the First Leg, went down 1-2 in Germany.

Out of Europe and both domestic cups, Norwich could focus on their final twelve league matches and a change in form soon followed. With just one defeat in nine, the club lifted themselves back to 8th. Unfortunately, the club lost the final three games of the season and slipped one place back to 9th.


RTFM is returning after a hiatus since we resigned as manager of Borussia Dortmund at the end of June 2015. The three seasons since then have been fully simulated in the original FM13 save, right up to the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Our daily news will return on 15 June 2018, with regular blog posts between now and then to highlight what’s happened in our absence.
NB: The entirety of RTFM is being played on Football Manager 2013. Regen players will have ® after their names to indicate this. Be aware that changes to competition rules since the summer of 2012 will not have been implemented in our save (e.g. UEL winners do not automatically qualify for the UCL), and this includes any new clubs or franchises, though we will endeavour to report on correct/current competition titles.
We will return to club management after our save generates the domestic leagues we’ve selected for the 2018-19 season on, or shortly after, 20th June. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or @realtimefm.