Invincibles – Season One

In this article I’ll take a look back over the first season and discuss the signings I’ve made and explain why, as well as identifying new possible transfer targets. On top of this I’ll also look at the tactic being used and see how far away from the end goal we are and to see if we can see any Arsenal Invincible characteristics already, even though it’s early days.

Before all of this though I’d like to touch upon something else because some of the comments I’ve been getting are starting to annoy me. People keep saying things like ‘Those players are nothing like the ones who played, those players don’t have the attributes, he’s wrong footed’ and so on. I explained this in the other posts, if you think I can play this way and find all the players needed and it be perfect from the start, then you’re an idiot. It takes time and I need several seasons to find the right sort of players and even then I don’t know how perfect they will be. There are bound to be some kind of sacrifices along the way but as of yet, I don’t know what those will be but no doubt, these series of articles will highlight those. I’m looking to follow the Invincibles as closely as possible so this includes inverted players on the wings. But you have to realise that before I find the ideal players needed I might have to identify possible transfer targets who are slightly different for now. I can only buy what I can afford and I still need to be successful while aiming to reach the end goal. So before making silly comments about someone being wrong footed or lacking certain traits, remember, I already know this and have explained several times why.

Be patient and remember we are building towards something, it isn’t going to happen straight away, it’s a big project for a reason……….
I guess a good starting point for this article would be the transfers ins and out.


None of these players are long-term and are just to either raise funds or stop-gap players so we can carry on progressing through the leagues with results. However one future transfer that doesn’t show on that list is;


What caught my eye is his creativity. Now he doesn’t fit the Gilberto role so he won’t be developed with the more defensive minded midfield role in mind. I’m hoping he can maybe fill the Patrick Vieira role. I’ll need a lot of luck and hope he has high potential for that though as I need his physical attributes so all be over fifteen at the bare minimum. I’m not sure if he will fit the mould or will just fall short when he hit’s the age of twenty years old though. But it’s something I will keep track of very closely. For 30k transfer fee he was worth the gamble!

As the game progresses I have a feeling I’ll be picking a lot of players up like this who are young and might need developing a specific way. I will update more about Ian in season two. If he (or anyone else I buy)aren’t up to standard by a certain age, then they will be moved on at a later date. But right now, he has every chance of being the player I need.

That was it for transfers that are worth mentioning, at least with the end goal in mind. Although I did identify a possible potentially  Patrick Vieira type of player who is young and has some of the attributes needed. This is him;


I’ve seen him on other saved games I’ve had but he tends to be developed as a right-winger, although he is also a natural central midfielder. He lacks the physical attributes Vieira possessed and the tackling but again, he is still extremely young and can develop. There is a massive stumbling block though, and that is his value. He’s already valued at £2 million and I’m nowhere near being able to attract a player like him to the club. This means that his value is likely to have risen dramatically when I would have been able to afford him, so I still won’t be able to. Make sense? I hope so lol.

Other than that, I didn’t really find any other possible players just yet. It’s still early days though but I’m hoping things get better next season and I become aware of more players.

The League

There isn’t that much to talk about here as it went as expected for a club of this stature. We won it comfortably and wasn’t ever really troubled. This is the final league table;


As you can see nothing out of the ordinary. Here are the player stats for this season;


As a quick overview they show me that my keepers distribution is poor which I had assumed anyway because I haven’t instructed them to do different to the default at this stage. I wanted a full season with the base tactic I posted before and to see how many times the keeper started attacks when the opportunity was there. I saw this on a couple of occasions but I need to check in more details to confirm just how many. This requires watching more games back, which is time-consuming so I might wait until next season and pay more attention to this aspect actually.

Something else these stats also tell me is there was a bias down the left hand side for goals because Woolford and Harris got a lot of assists. So maybe the left side of the current base tactic does resemble Arsenal?!

Most of the goals we scored though came from the two strikers and right-wing. This is also very Arsenal like in terms of stats but we don’t know what the player is actually like yet. I’d have liked to have seen more goals from the left side of midfield though as Pires used to chip in with a good amount of goals. Apart from the stuff mentioned above it doesn’t really tell me anything useful, at least, not from a contextual point of view.

Goals and Assists


The goals I score are all from pretty central areas of the pitch which I guess, is expected. But what about the goal types I score?


Almost all of them are placed shots, which explains why they are all mainly central scored goals. I’ve no doubt that as I improve the squad with more suitable players, that the goal types I score will become more varied.


The above screen is important though as it’s the assist location and the assist type screen. Arsenal scored a lot of goals from through balls and passes, something which I seem to have also done this season. The amount of goals from crosses it far too high though and something I need to reign in a little bit, somehow.

According to the stats, (without context) we are resembling Arsenal to some extent. But what about actual match play? I don’t really want to go into a full on tactical analysis because the team isn’t anywhere near what I want so I’m not sure what I’d learn. But it might be good to have a brief look at play down the wings, especially the left side to see how close or far away from what I’m creating, I really am. To keep it easier to follow by looking at the screenshots, I’ll use the proper Arsenal teams names on the pictures themselves.


Immediately I can see it doesn’t work how I want, which we already knew. But the Cole role isn’t pushed on enough, Henry is tucked in too deep. The Pires role though he’s cut inside which is what we want but the fullback has to do more and push beyond him. Henry should be closer to this side of the pitch too.


This is the same move still. It’s actually good movement and I have plenty of options going forward but it’s nothing like the Arsenal way, which I’m trying to recreate. During the rest of the game I saw similar things and it highlights why the left side got more goals and assists because of the positions the players are taking up. I’ll not add any more analysis because, well, it’s pointless at this stage.

As the seasons go on and the articles get posted, we will start seeing a more Arsenal orientated side with a more specific pattern of play, that we are aiming for. The articles will be less like updates too and be about specific things. But for now, rather than neglect the early seasons I wanted to cover them briefly rather than leaving them out. The full picture will flow a lot better then.

30 thoughts on “Invincibles – Season One”

    1. It really is yeah. That’s why I’ve only briefly mentioned it and not discussed it in real depth. As I have a Bergkamp article that will touch upon all of these type of examples for a later date 🙂

  1. ‘…then you’re an idiot’ – made me snort coffee through my nose onto my laptop! i’m by no means a brilliant fm player but i regularly shake my head at those types of comments, such things don’t even happen in ‘real life’ football, why would they happen in fm? it took me the better part of 25 seasons to rebuild a relegated Southampton side and win my 1st premier league…

    1. Haha yeah. People forget about building towards something and think one bad season or a bad result is the end of the world. Everything feels more rushed these days with modern day gamers and they expect instant results and to be able to pull of their ideas instantly…….

      1. Hi Cleon, really liked this one, it highlights for me what sets you apart from anyone else, which is your maturity when it comes to analysis.

        I think that many people would have thought the project to be successful and complete at this point, you theorized a tactic which in all fairness is pretty close to the Invincibles, you had a very successful season, dominating your league and coming close to playing a similar style of football to what you want. I don’t want to take anything away from what is a great season, make no mistake!

        The article however says so much more, you’re not even close to being where you want. It’s this ability to be so “self-critical” if I may call it that, which makes your writing so good.

        You’ve clearly established areas which need improvement, both in terms of personnel available to you as well as the overall style and feel that the team and individuals play with.

        Your example of the Cole-Pires-Henry interplay highlights this, some might see the linkup and think, yeah, Cole-Pires-Henry are linking up along the left and there is interplay between them. Great! However as you so rightly point out, they are not interacting in the WAY which the IRL trio did. Cole not being forward enough, Henry being too deep or central etc…..

        Knowing that crosses are too high and wanting to rein it in, others might be tempted to not worry about it, attention to small details!

        If anyone can make it work, you can 😛

        Looking forward to the next installment.

        PS: I’ve been playing this game as long as you and the amount of content you have created is insane. Just wanted to thank you for taking time to provide the community with such quality content, it also seems to have taken some of the community to a new level with regards to the way they approach the game as can be seen by the SI forums.

        1. Thanks for the really kind words Vince 🙂

          I’d like to think my articles in the past three months have upped peoples games, especially on SI as you mention. It probably seems big headed but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that people are now paying more attention to details and actually looking at specific things based on the articles I’ve produced lately. I even feel that I’ve upped my writing too. I still can’t spell and construct sentences properly though haha. But the detail and points I want to make are there.

          As for the way I play I think you’re right. Most people would probably see the results and say ‘Yeah this is awesome’ and accept it. However because I am creating a style that is a real life one and very well documented across the t’internet then I think in some ways its much easier to be critical because I can look at real life clips and identify that the player did this and that. Then compare with how it’s all working on my game.

          I think one of the points that often get missed by people when I write stuff is it’s not the results that matter for me. It’s the manner at which I play that is vital. I can win 6-0 and be furious because it’s not the style I want. I’d much rather win 1-0 playing the brand I want rather than winning games big. The results have become secondary to what I create. I still need wins obviously to keep my job but on a personal level they don’t mean much to be. Like if I won the Premiership and it seemed easy it wouldn’t really count in my mind if it didn’t play like I wanted. I think people often see my results and think wow that’s impressive but don’t realise it’s the style I’m focusing on.

          1. I think you’d make a good Guardiola P .

            I’m sure you saw the reference (on Henry talking about Barca) about Henry scoring a goal but not following Guardiola’s instructions to stay out wide left and being dragged off at halftime despite scoring because he decided to “go have fun on that side of the pitch”.

            We’re all Thierry Henry’s, perfectly happy with ourselves for scoring and your’e Pep Guardiola.

  2. I’m sorry for annoying you with the wrong foot thing, sorry if I further elaborate on this as I really don’think that’s deserved.

    For me, a left-footed player for the Pires role would be a deal-breaker at any level, but that’s just me. Won’t blame you if you think differently.

    In that particular case though you were targeting players for the future, that would only be available when you’d be promoted to Premier League (like Thauvin). This would make them long term targets, quite expensive and reputable by the way, certainly not just stopgaps for lower divisions.

    So as you were already targeting players for the future, didn’t see much sense considering left-footed players for the specific Pirès role that clearly requires the ‘wrong’ (right…) foot to work as intended. Also, the moment your club has the reputation and the money to sign players like Thauvin or Patrick Roberts, you’ll most likely have the chance to sign most high reputation players, so it’s not like you’d have a limited pool of players to sign.

    I absolutely enjoy this series and the whole site, I’m happy to keep following, I probably have a different idea about what’s ‘annoying’ though, so I’d better stop commenting after this because comments that I consider to be quite average and polite might make you very annoyed.

    1. Thauvin would be a stop gap as would Roberts because both are wrong footed. Even when I’m in the Prem the pool of players I have to choose from is still limited due to funds, them having bad PPM’s and not having the right attributes needed. So to say I shouldn’t be considering such player is silly. I still need a squad that can maintain results and be competitive or I’d be sacked. It seems you think differently though……

      When you can sign Thauvin and Roberts doesn’t come down to money because both tend to get released or transfer listed early in most games and you can pick them up for cheap. That’s why they were highlighted as realistic options until I can find better, more suitable players. Something which you seem to be ignoring.

      Its fine to carry on commenting on the blog but stop being unrealistic with your expectations. Remember I am going from League One so funds are limited, I’ll need 22+ new players who all fit the criteria I need. To start with there is no chance of finding everyone needed let alone being able to afford those I need. So compromises like footedness etc have to be compromised in the short term, there’s no other way around it apart from stopping and doing something else.

      I’m quite surprised you can’t see or understand this though.

    2. Hey Donnie, whilst I understand where you’re coming from, I absolutely understand Cleon’s point of view too.

      He is totally aware of the shortcomings of his players and system. One thing I’ve learned is that Cleon is usually very good at getting the results he wants.

      He has stressed multiple times that this is a long-term project so my advice to you would be to trust in his vision and his ability to implement it.

      In terms of comments, please don’t stop commenting as I believe that all comments that generate discussion are valid, perhaps phrase them as questions though rather than blanket statements like “This will not work” etc. In that way, discussion is generated that is far better, and anyone can benefit from this.

      Remember that all of us interpret things differently and this important. Even in terms of FM, I’ve noticed how differently 2 players can interpret the same role, is one right or the other wrong? No, and for me that is the beauty of individuality. Have some faith in the vision that Cleon has for the series, I’m sure he’ll succeed and spring a few surprises along the way…..

      Please don’t take my comments the wrong way as I would still like to see any comments or thoughts that you and everyone else has to bring to the discussion.

      Hope I’ve not caused anyone any offence with this.

      1. Absolutely no offence, Vince.

        I have not only trust, but rather a certainty that Cleon would achieve all the goals of this project sooner rather than later, in terms of both results and playing style.

        The reason I’d stop commenting would be if my comments keep annoying Cleon, because it’s very possible that I might think of writing polite, reasoned comments that actually sound silly and annoying. Cleon puts lots of time and effort in this so I wouldn’t want to be cause of frustration for him.

        This Thauvin/Roberts thing is a perfect example, I couldn’t explain myself better than I already did yet this is probably being perceived as shallow and annoying. And further explanations would likely sound even more annoying, even if that was the opposite of what I meant in first place.

        For now I’d better follow quietly this series and enjoy Cleon’s writing without interfering too much!

      2. I think probably we have different opinion about short and long term plans. You sign a very good left-footed player for the Pirés role while in League One or Championship, that’s a very understandable short term solution to me.

        You target good left-footed players for a future Premier League squad two years from now, while – in my opinion – at that point you’ll have money and reputation to find equally good right-footed players, that’s a long term agenda that – again in my opinion – should already be quite selective, i.e. I’d start discarding lefties for that specific role.

        Maybe I’m used to play faster, while Cleon’s long term is much longer than mine due to his attention to details and deeper analysis. As already said, I respect that.

        I don’t really feel my comments should be treated like I’m not understanding what I’m reading though. Personally I don’t even need the ‘benefit of the doubt’! Obviously what I write makes sense to me, of course I respect anyone’s opinion, including mine.

        Hopefully I haven’t hi-jacked this interesting post by Cleon with too many boring comments!

        1. A lot of people think I play slow but I probably play faster than most people. I’ve played 5 seasons of this save already, it only takes about 4 hour to finish a season 🙂

          1. 4 hours how do you do that?
            I’d thought you watched your games full or comprehensive, but do you do instant result aswell?

          2. I’ve never used instant results no. I holiday between games when I have nothing to do and in not finding players. I also don’t watch all games in full. I only watch the first 15 mins of every game that is all then the rest on key.

  3. I’m quite surprised you can’t see or understand that the very minute you can sign Thauvin or Patrick Roberts it means that 1) you’re in the Premier League 2) you have the reputation to attract a huge percentage of players from any league in the world 3) by that time, dozens of right-footed players with similar attributes/PPM’s as Thauvin and Roberts could very well be available on a free, or on loan, or transfer-listed.

    If you could sign Thauvin or Roberts in League One or in the Championship I’d say ‘wow who cares about the foot’. Pretty sure you can’t though, so if I had to target players for a future when my club plays in the Premier League, I’d already discard any left-footed player for the very specific Pirès role. Because that would already be ‘long term’ thinking in my view. You have a different mindset, I can respect that.

    I expressed my thoughts in a very polite manner, tried to make my point with somewhat rational explanations, and was also very appreciative about your work (because I do enjoy your writings), only to be repeatedly asked – or informed – that I’m silly or stupid.

    I’d sign Thauvin and Roberts in a heartbeat in any save. I wouldn’t target any left-footed player for the Pirés role two years before I can actually sign them if my goal was to find right-footed players for that particular style of play. That makes me stupid in your opinion, I’ll live with that.

    Sorry if I annoyed you. Still really like this site.

    1. 1- Except there not, That’s the point. Just because I’m in the Premier League doesn’t mean I can attract any player I want. I found a massive propotion still rejected me, as you’ll see in a future update. I can attract more players than when I was in The Championship obviously but that’s no good if none of them are suitable. Its okay you saying ‘You’re in the Prem a bigger pool to choose from and possibly more players suitable to the roles I’m wanting. However in practise this ISN’T the case as I’m finding out. And the few players I have found so far, the clubs demand like £50 million or more for the player which is not realistic for us at this time. And when I can afford those kind of fees then the players will have bigger reps and the clubs will likely want more for them. It’s an endless cycle.

      It’s not that I have a different mindset, it’s the fact I have League One players (a large amount still) at the club and who are regulars in the side yet can’t compete in the Premiership. So if I did as you did and used that sort of logic I’d not be able to replace them with better players because what’s the point of signing someone if they don’t fit the mould right? In practise it’s not that simple. I want to stay in the Prem and I have to improve the squads quality, all while aiming for the end goal which is the Invincibles. It’s not that we have a different mind set, it’s just that it’s unrealistic to do it any other way at this moment in time. I can’t afford to be too picky just yet. Once I’m established then that’s a different matter and I’d agree with you. But as a newly promoted side, the aim is to improve first on what we already have at the club so we can become established. While trying to balance the types of players I bring in who fit the Arsenal way.

      I’ve not once called you or accused you of being stupid. The bit in the article wasn’t aimed specifically at you.

      You’ve not annoyed me, you are just thinking in very black and white terms and making out its simple to dismiss players when it’s not. I identified Roberts and Thauvin because I know they become available and unless I find some very cheap worldy regens then they will have to do for the time being, whether I identified them in the first season or third season.

      The thing with squad building is you need to have a plan and know what types of players you need and why. You’re not going to find the perfect players needed easily, far from it. I’m being realistic in my approach and trying to balance the current playing squad vs the future one I’d like and a lot of it is out of my control for now due to lack of pulling power (for now at the very least) and limited amounts of players who fit the criteria needed.

    2. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt earlier, as I saw your point, but now i’m just starting to question if I was right in doing so.

      Cleon posts this:

      “When you can sign Thauvin and Roberts doesn’t come down to money because both tend to get released or transfer listed early in most games and you can pick them up for cheap. That’s why they were highlighted as realistic options until I can find better, more suitable players. Something which you seem to be ignoring.”

      Not 5 minutes later, you reply with something:

      “I’m quite surprised you can’t see or understand that the very minute you can sign Thauvin or Patrick Roberts it means that 1) you’re in the Premier League 2) you have the reputation to attract a huge percentage of players from any league in the world 3) by that time, dozens of right-footed players with similar attributes/PPM’s as Thauvin and Roberts could very well be available on a free, or on loan, or transfer-listed.”

      It seems like you can ignore evidence to suit your own case, which is not how it works. For me, the reasoning for signing those players is sound. Yes, they are not right footed, no they are not long term solutions. Simple. Your arguments indicate a lack of patience/trust.

      In this day when you have the Guardiola’s and possibly Zidane’s that can be an instant success, people tend to forget about the Wengers and Ferguson’s who spent YEARS trying to gather the right personnel for a system. It’s almost like we’ve forgotten how hard it actually is to become a successful manager or build a squad like Fergies treble winners or Arsene’s Invincibles. In Guardiola’s case and looking to be like Zidane’s, both were lucky to have one of the most talented squads in the world to start with. Ferguson and Wenger took almost 10 years to build their squads. I feel that is the difference between Cleon’s attempt and your understanding of what he is doing. Cleon is taking the long term approach, where you want to take the instant gratification approach.

      Just my 2 cents

  4. Cleon great work again. Just want to say a quick thanks as since following yourself and Fox in the box and implementing some of your methods to my own game, I have finally got a tactic working that I built myself and have dominated my league season. im in no way at your level but I am enjoying the game again.
    My question about this article, is, At the start of the season, did you place any philosophy’s for the board to judge you on since it is a certain way that you want to play?

  5. Hi this is really fascinating, thanks so much, great series to read! Anyway I was just wondering in general about the centre midfield – how did you manage to win so many games with just two in the centre!! Tried 4-4-2 in the past but at higher levels it just kept getting swamped when the opposition played 3 in the middle instead. anyway keep going, great job, really fascinating!

  6. Hi Cleon, just out of interest, what do you choose as your ‘Past Playing Experience’ and what type of manager do you choose? Tactical or Tracksuit? I’m trying to replicate your level of success but I never quite dominate in the same way as you do in FM15. I always choose Sunday League Footballer and I suspect if I chose a higher level of experience I may see similar results, instead I have to make do with scraping into the playoffs or narrowly winning the league at best! 🙂

    1. I choose the same as you do and I am a mix of both managers. It’s nothing to do with the past experience why you don’t emulate my success, it’s because very few understand the game on the same level I do.

      1. Fair enough. Good to know you’re not giving yourself an easy ride to achieve the success. I’ll just have to keep looking and trying to understand the nuances of FM.

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