The Academy : A Mist Rolling In From The Trent (FM20) Introduction


Welcome to the Introduction post for what I have decided will be my FM20 save, The Academy will be the name and focus for my save with the team I have supported for over 40 years, Nottingham Forest. I am going to manage both the 1st team and one of the youth teams in a hope that I can take the already successful Academy to the next level and make the pathway to the first team a smooth transition for our rising stars.

A Mist Rolling In From The Trent

Taking the reigns at the club I have supported from infant school feels like I am coming home to the football family that brought me joy and disappointment in equal measure but I have and will always have this club in my heart. I have seen a few Forest saves labelled a sleeping giant save but I have never thought of my club as being a giant in the World of Football, but you have won two European Cups I hear you say but even winning the European Cup / Champions League does not necessarily mean that you are a Giant. The city of Nottingham is to this day the smallest city to provide a European Cup / Champions League winner.

I think what Brian Clough and Peter Taylor achieved with a newly promoted club was fantastic and I am proud to have been lucky enough to watch it but those days are long behind us and now it’s time for me to have a go at restoring former glories on Trent side.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to lead this club back in to the top flight and then back in to European competition.

The Club

The club was founded in 1865 and have played their home matches at the City Ground since 1898 which happens to be the clubs 7th ground. They currently compete in the EFL Championship, the second tier of the English football league system and the EFL have confirmed that the club is officially the oldest football league club after Notts County’s I’ll fated relegation to the National League. 

The clubs honour’s list

  • European Cup 1979, 1980
  • Division 1 (Premier League) 1977
  • FA Cup 1898, 1959
  • League Cup 1978, 1979, 1989, 1990
  • UEFA Super Cup 1980
  • Charity Shield 1979

The Owner


Shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Greek club Olympiakos is the owner of the club and since buying the club as been positive in his actions in taking the club to the next level. He speaks of taking the club in to the Premier League and the Champions League. The club seems more connected with the supporters which is reflected in the attendances at the City Ground.

The redevelopment of the main stand as also been announced and will turn the City Ground in to a Premier ground ready for top flight football in a way that will bring more people through the gates generating more money.

Transfer News


The club have had a very busy summer with a large number of player’s coming and going and I think the club have done some tremendous business with the Expenditure at £4.950,000 and the Income of £11,880,000 making a profit of £6,930,000 which in my opinion is very shrewd business when you look at the quality and depth that we now have in the 1st team squad.


  • Right Back Carl Jenkinson from Arsenal
  • Goalkeeper Brice Samba from Caen
  • Midfielder Samba Sow from Dinamo Moscow
  • Defender Chema from Levante
  • Goalkeeper Arjanet Muric from Manchester City (Loan)
  • Forward Sammy Ameobi Free Transfer
  • Winger Albert Adomah Free Transfer
  • Forward Rafa Mir from Wolverhampton Wanderers (Loan)
  • Midfielder Tiago Silva from Feirense
  • Midfielder John Bostock From Toulouse (Loan)
  • Defender Yuri Ribeiro From Benfica
  • Midfielder Alfa Semedo From Benfica (Loan)


Somewhere in the region of 20 players have left the club in the summer but the most notable are listed below:

  • Winger Arvin Appiah Joined UD Almeria £7.92m
  • Midfielder Ben Osborn Joined Sheffield United £3.51m

I think the club have had a very good summer recruiting quality and depth which provides a very good platform to mount a serious promotion challenge.

Club Records

I will have a go at trying to break a few club records on my journey.

  • Most appearances for the club (in all competitions): 692 – Bob McKinlay (1951–1970)
  • Most goals for the club (in all competitions): 217 – Grenville Morris (1898–1913)
  • Highest attendance: 49,946 Vs. Manchester United in Division 1, 28 October 1967
  • Lowest attendance: 4,030 Vs. Morecambe F.C. in the Football League Cup, 13 August 2008
  • Record receipts: £499,099 Vs. FC Bayern Munich in UEFA Cup quarter final 2nd leg, 19 March 1996
  • Longest sequence of league wins: 7, wins from 9 May 1922 to 1 September 1922
  • Longest sequence of league defeats: 14, losses from 21 March 1913 to 27 September 1913
  • Longest sequence of unbeaten league matches: 42, from 26 November 1977 to 25 November 1978
  • Longest sequence of league games without a win: 19, from 8 September 1998 to 16 January 1999
  • Longest sequence of league games without a goal: 7, 13 December 2003 to 7 February 2004 and 26 November 2011 to 31 December 2011
  • Quickest goal:
    • League: 14 seconds, Jack Lester vs Norwich City, 8 March 2000
    • League Cup: 23 seconds, Paul Smith vs Leicester City, 18 September 2007 in the League Cup.
  • Record win (in all competitions): 14–0, Vs. Clapton(away), 1st round FA Cup, 17 January 1891
  • Record defeat (in all competitions): 1–9, Vs. Blackburn Rovers, Division 2, 10 April 1937
  • Most league points in one season
    • 2 points for a win (46 games): 70, Division 3 South, 1950–51
    • 2 points for a win (42 Games): 64, Division 1. 1977-78
    • 3 points for a win: 94, Division 1, 1997–98
  • Most league goals in one season: 110, Division 3, 1950–51
  • Highest league scorer in one season: Wally Ardron, 36, Division 3 (South), 1950–51
  • Most internationally capped player: Stuart Pearce, 76 for England (78 total)
  • Youngest league player: Craig Westcarr, 16 years, Vs. Burnley 13 October 2001
  • Oldest league player: Dave Beasant, 42 years 47 days, Vs. Tranmere Rovers 6 May 2001
  • Largest transfer fee paid: £13,200,000 to Benfica for João Carvalho
  • Largest transfer fee received: £15,000,000 from Middlesbrough for Britt Assombalonga

Marinakis Appoints Papa


So 48 year old ‘Papa’ becomes the latest manager to attempt to bring the good times back to Trent Side. Papa believes in the Forest way of playing football and will look to  implement his style of the play that is heavily influenced by the Ajax school. Whilst it’s nice to see attacking football nothing gives me greater satisfaction than a clean sheet so I will definitely be looking to turn the City Ground in to a fortress.

My Aims For The Save (not to be confused with the clubs vision) 

So with the new features on FM20 it’s going to be really interesting with the Club Vision, Development Hub, and the player pathway making it potentially the best FM to date. Now all of the above will impact on the clubs finances etc, what I have to spend and in what areas I can invest, so when the game goes live it will be interesting to how it impacts my aims for the save which are:

  • To build the best youth academy in Europe / World

The name of the save is “The Academy” and my main aim is to build on the good work that the Forest academy have done over the last few years. I want Nottingham to be the the envy of the World by making the Nigel Doughty academy a production line of talent that will both look after the future of the club on the playing field and financially.

Yes it will be nice to develop players who will go on and represent the club at the top level but it will also be important to develop players who can be sold at the right time to keep the clubs finances in shape. The club in recent years have sold the likes of Patrick Bamford, Ben Brereton, Oliver Burke and Arvin Appiah to balance the books and whilst their is nothing more pleasing than seeing one of your academy players in the 1st team we also have to recognise that we have to pay the bills and that every player comes with a price.

To be the very best I will look to build a backroom staff that will give us the best possible chance of developing our players and this includes a recruitment team who can identify talent early enough for us to pounce. It’s a cut throat business and the competition for local talent is high with the Midlands alone having a number of clubs scouting locally.

We have to create the best environment to allow the coaches and players to develop so there will be an emphasis on improving the facilities again and again until we have a World class development centre.

The player pathway is something that excites me and I think will have a massive impact now on how I manage the development squad.

  • Implement My Football Concept 

Like all FM players I think there is nothing sweeter than seeing your tactical system work the way you want it to after all the notebook jotting and implementing your concept at your club.  My Football Concept is based on the Ajax school of football from Buckingham to Michels and from Michels to ten Hag, the Ajax philosophy is something that never fails to take my attention when talked about. The formation that I tend to use as my default is a 4-1-2-2-1 / 4-3-3.

  • To abide by Financial Fair Play rules

Financial Fair Play is a must in terms of the long term future of any club and Nottingham Forest will most certainly be adhering to this under my tenure.

  • To implement a sustainable Financial system

I am eager to implement a financial system that both looks after the club both on and off the field. This hopefully will fit nicely in to the clubs vision which we will have to wait and see how this all pans out when the game goes live. On last years FM I implemented a system that worked very well and I think it should be the same this time around. FM inside produced an article on wage caps and basically my system is very much the same and works like this:

You split your players in to 4 groups based on a squad of 23 1st team players

Key Players 4

First Team 7

Back Ups 12

Youth Players

You then take your wage budget let’s  say for example £1m for ease of showing the formula and allocate the following percentage in to each group

Key Players 30% £300,000  Maximum Wage Per Player £75,000

First Team 30% £300,000 Maximum Wage Per Player £42,850

Back Ups 30% £300,000 Maximum Wage Per Player £27,250

Youth Players 10% £100,000

Now this can be done at any club with any budget and the percentages and how many players you allocate to each group is your choice. The breakdown above is how I like to operate.

Now with all the above in place you have a framework to work with that allows you to control your clubs finances. This will also keep you on your toes with the player groups and who is earning their corn.

Obviously the wage budget will change season after season but the same framework can be applied and can also cause you problems with players wanting  improved contracts etc but this adds a different dimension to the game and forces you to make some interesting decisions.

Once the game goes live I will be able to show you my group allocations and budget.

  • To win a European trophy

Nothing unique here but to to bring European glory back to Nottingham would be the icing on the cake for me. I know we have to get promotion and become a sustainable club within the top tier but a shot at European success is what I am aiming for. You my ask what about the Premier League but honestly if we win the Premier League it will be a great feeling but Europe is my aim on FM20.

  • To win the UEFA Youth League 

That’s right I want to take this Academy side on to European glory before the end of the save. Winning the Youth equivalent to the Champions League would be an achievement that would rank at the very top for me if I can achieve this on FM20.

1st Team Squad Composition 


From the graphic above you can see that the 1st team squad is nicely balanced with good options in every position however at 30 squad members I will be looking to trim the numbers with up to 8 players being made available for our other squads or going out on loan but with an option to recall if required.

We have three players who we are loaning from other clubs, these are Goalkeeper Arjanet Muric from Manchester City,  Midfielders’s John Bostock from Toulouse and Alfa Semedo from Benfica. All three are on season long deals and it remains to be seen if a long term option is available by triggering a buyout clause.

Long term I don’t want to be running with bloated squads so I will be looking at every player at the club with the long term in mind and if it means simply letting a players contract run down or moving on for a fee it will be done so for the very reason of the pathway in mind by using my squad depth sheets.

Every player comes with a price tag and that includes our own so if the price matches my value then more often than not the player will leave.

Looking at our first team squad we have a good mix of experience and youth and that is how I will be looking to manage this squad going forward.  Like I have mentioned above I will be running a 23 man squad but with players available to play in our development squads meaning that a few youth players will be training with the first team in a hope to increase their potential and transitioning in to a first team player.

Next Blog Post 

My next blog post will take a look at our development / youth team squads, so it should be live around the full release weekend in November.

Thank you for reading and I hope you stop by again during FM20 to see how my journey with Nottingham Forest is coming along.



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