You are currently viewing FM22: Managing Newcastle United on Football Manager (Part 52)

FM22: Managing Newcastle United on Football Manager (Part 52)

We asked Iain Macintosh to manage Newcastle United at Football Manager 2022 and it went really well for a while but he doesn’t say much these days. He just sits and stares out the window, occasionally mouthing the words “Federico Chiesa” and crying.

Episode 1 (with links to episodes 1-10)
Episode 11 (with links to episodes 11-20)
Episode 21 (with links to episodes 21-30)
Episode 31 (with links to episodes 31-40)
Episode 41 (with links to episodes 41-50)
episode 51

We have to keep going. We’re dropping points everywhere, Stoke City just handed us our bottoms but we’ve got to keep going. We are in serious danger of ending the season worse than empty-handed; We are in serious danger of qualifying for the Europa Conference League.

But it’s too late to change now. We can’t tear it all up and start over, there are only four games left. We just have to trust our big players to come through for us in a system that has been working so well for over two years.

It looks like we are in a direct battle with Arsenal for 4th place and of course we will face the Gunners in the penultimate game of the season in London before finishing the season at home against Brentford. But first we have Leicester City.

I’m going to make some changes to the team because you can’t make changes when Stoke got three past you, but it’s the same form. It’s the same plan. We need to get this going again.

We start well but Benjamin Sesko and Leon Bailey miss two great chances, Sergino Dest gets injured and somehow we just lose our way. It’s not systemic things, it’s small things. It’s the occasional misjudgment, the odd sluggish reaction, the frequent failure to make the right run. And it all adds up. Six weeks ago we were absolutely on fire, unbeaten in 20 games. Now everything has fallen apart.

I screw them up at half-time and they seem to be perking up but just two minutes into the restart Leicester throw a corner into our six-yard box and Joe Willock slices it past Ugurcan Cakir. 0-1 Leicester immediately falls deep. So deep. So deep they put Nicky Butt to sleep. I don’t know why I’m letting him sit on the bench, honestly he’s just the technical director.

25 minutes before the end, drastic action is required. We don’t need a defensive midfielder against this side, so Andrea Belotti comes to play alongside Sesko. Three minutes later they were reduced to ten men when Caglar Soyuncu crashed into Jools Weigl, studs raised. Are you sure now? Can we turn that around now?


With ten minutes to go, I desperately throw Antony Elanga up as well. Raw pace, I am assured weekly by Jamie Redknapp, is the most terrifying thing in football. But Leicester are completely unaffected by this. We don’t take a single chance and we lose. We lose. We lose.

It’s time for the ultimate shit-or-get-off-the-pot Powerflex. It’s time for a team meeting. I tell the players that I don’t want them to lose their heads, that we need to get good results again. You all agree. Belotti stands up and tells his teammates that they were all garbage and they need to fix this. Brilliant! That’s the stuff. The players are together, they are motivated, we can do that. We can turn this around. But I still drop half of it because we play three games in seven days and just got beaten by Leicester.

abominable. The first ten minutes are just absolutely awful. So much for the renewed spirit in the ranks. We don’t push properly, but we don’t chase runners and we don’t block overtaking lanes. I don’t really know what we do, apart from running West Ham rings around us. When we get the ball, we lose it immediately, either with a wildly ambitious crossfield pass or at an awkward moment by literally running off the field with the ball.

“Bouldy, let’s just switch to geggidy geggidy geggidy. It’s the only other offensive tactic we’ve trained for and it just can’t get any worse than this.”

Bouldy looks thoughtful, scratches his chin, then nods in agreement.

Two minutes later, Belotti goes down in the penalty area and we win a penalty. He hits the left post hard, it bounces along the goal line, hits the right post and goes in. I think that’s what he wanted to do.

Five minutes before the break, Weigl, now in attacking midfield, plays a nice Fabregas-style pass over the defense, Belotti lulls the goalkeeper.

West Ham come back to us after the break and score a well-crafted goal but eventually we seem able to deal with them and it’s not long before Belotti scores Bailey for the crucial third goal. Thank god for that. We actually played well for the first time in weeks.

Incredibly Arsenal manage to lose their game against Wolves which means we are just two points behind them with two games to go. Manchester City also slipped, losing to Chelsea just days after being wiped out in Europe by Bayern Munich. So a win in the Emirates will put Champions League qualification in our hands. A loss could effectively end the season.

We have a full nine days to prepare, which means a whole series of training sessions, team bonding exercises and intensive standard exercises. Houssem Aouar and Dest just came back from defeats so maybe they’re not 100 per cent but we’re pretty much in full swing for this most important game of the season.

It would be madness like we did against West Ham to attack full force so we’re back to the form that has worked for us in the past.

It’s, as you’d expect, a close, tense affair. Even Bouldy feels the pressure. His eyes are wide, his knuckles are clenched and his jaw is sticking out, and just then Gunnersaurus came over for a hug before kick-off.

Arsenal defend deep and tight, clogging up the area around their own penalty area and we find it difficult to break through. Finally, after half an hour of shadow boxing, Aouar finds a gap and releases Saint-Maximin. His shot is brilliantly saved by Aaron Ramsdale. At the other end, Gabrielle Martinelli manages to get behind Merih Demiral and circles the keeper only to hit the post from a tight angle. It’s still scoreless at half-time.

Arsenal look heavy-legged but they make three early changes and are starting to regain control. We are indebted to Ugurcan Cakir as Martinelli breaks through again for a nice save.

And then disaster. Dest shuts down and loses Reiss Nelson, who fires meep-mieps into space and shoves the ball into Cakir’s near post. 0-1 There are only ten minutes left.

Just enough time for one last turn. Hannibal spins the ball to the near post, Josko Gvardiol rises and a single point is saved. Arsenal are devastated and we’re doing everything we can to steal a winner but to no avail. It ends 1-1 and it’s hard to argue that it’s not a fair result.

Manchester City have their toughest game ahead of them in the middle of the week, welcoming a side from Liverpool who could win the title if they win. City, exhausted after a 60+ game season, defeated them 3-0 and set up a classic final day of the season for Sky sports manager.

And so it is no longer in our hands. City are flawless and if Arsenal beat Fulham away they will secure fourth place. But we have a few things in our favour. We have a superior goal difference and, unlike Mikel Arteta’s side, we don’t have our eyes on a Europa Conference final next week. If we can beat Brentford at home and Arsenal don’t win, we’ll take the point on goal difference.

We blew the Champions League by wasting a two-goal advantage in the quarter-finals, we lost our FA Cup with an unfortunate semi-final loss to the richest club side in human history. We blew any chance of a title race with two terrible streaks of form that contributed to nine losses in one season. But we still have a puncher’s chance to finish in the top four. It’s available now, all right.

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Want more about FM from Iain and his team? Watch his podcast – The Football Manager Show sponsored by Livescore – for free on Apple, Spotify and all major podcast platforms and, of course, ad-free on The Athletic.

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