Welcome to my latest FM21 blog post, I am about to embark on the 2026-2027 season which will be the 7th season of my managerial career which so far is a really enjoyable save.
The Velvet Revolution
After spending two seasons in Holland with Willem II where we did the double 🏆🏆 of winning the Dutch 2nd tier and the Dutch Cup in our first season and then we retained the Dutch Cup 🏆 in our 2nd season and finished 5th in the Eredivisie, I had received a number of job interviews which in truth unsettled me with one of them being from Nottingham Forest who had just been took over by a consortium who had made me their number 1 target according to the bookies but after a good interview they did not offer me the job instead appointing Irish manager Michael O’Neill.
Although I had built a young side at Willem II who played some very nice football my head had been turned and despite having a good Pre-Season and winning the Dutch Super Cup🏆at the start of last season (2025-2026) I had left the club on my own accord before the Eredivisie had kicked off.
I was now out of work and looking for a club to give me the opportunity to get back in to Football so I knocked my C.V up which read like this :
- 2025-2026 Willem II (just for the Dutch Super Cup Final) 🏆
- 2024-2025 Willem Ii 🏆
- 2023-2024 Willem Ii 🏆🏆
- 2022-2023 1860 München
- 2021-2022 1860 München
- 2020-2021 1860 München
I am a manager who likes my teams to :
- Play attacking football
- Dictate the tempo
- Play out from the back
- Use wingers
- Be compact
I like to take full control of our training schedules both team and individual by implementing training schedules that both compliment my style of play and tailor individual attributes that mould the players in to our system. A system that I like to call The Velvet Revolution.
I like to put a lot of faith in developing players and giving them a chance in the 1st team so this means that I like to bring in my own backroom staff that have the qualities to do this.
I am also a manager who likes to build and control the scouting network again bringing in my own staff to achieve this.
I am a manager who insists on a financial model that looks after the clubs future. I always work within the budgets set out by the clubs owners. I am never held to ransom by any player who thinks he is bigger than the club, “if Johnny big bollox wants to leave for a bigger team then thats fine by me” We just move on and reinvest any monies from any deals back in to the budget.
All in all I like the hands on approach and get a lot of enjoyment building the framework that gives the club in question the opportunity to take the club to the next level.
A few jobs became available around Europe but one in particular had caught my eye in England and to be more precise in the West Midlands at Aston Villa who had parted company with Dean Smith with the club rooted firmly to the bottom of the Premier League.
I declared my interest and the Villa board offered me an interview which again went well but so did the interim the East Midlands. The bookies again had me down as the favourite for the vacant position and this time they were right, Villa offered me a two year contract and I was unveiled at Villa Park……..it felt good to be back in football……
The Villa Revolution
My first day in the job was to prepare for the Villa’s upcoming Premier League game against Manchester City who were sat 3rd in the table. It was a busy day with me taking stock of the tools at my disposal followed by the bloody press conference to ask me if I had any doubts about taking the job……if you haven’t got anything better to ask then don’t bother ya scruffy little toad…( I love the option of typing your own answer).
I had decided to bring James Beattie in to the club to be my assistant manager until the end of the season and then I will review it once we have completed the season. My initial thoughts on the club was that it needed a overhaul from top to bottom but I am not going to make any major overhaul of the club until the end of the season.
The only goal for this season is for us to fight against relegation and secure our position within the Premier League. Once we have done that the Villa Revolution can begin.
My first game in charge was soon upon us when we entertained Manchester City at Villa Park and we caused a bit of an upset in holding City to a 3-3 draw in a game that saw Forward Ollie Watkins score a fantastic hat-trick to the joy of the Villa fans. It was a good start and I had seen enough to believe that we could get ourselves out of the danger zone.
I never intended bringing anyone in to the club during the January transfer window but I could not resit the chance to get a loan deal for Erik Thijssen the young forward who I had given the chance of leadingcthe line for me in Holland at Willem II and who took the bull by the horns netting 52 goals in all competitions last season. Willem II had decided to transfer list Thijssen for £40m in the hope that they could avoid Thijssen leaving the club on a free. Thijssen agreed to join us on loan and once he arrived I made my move to sign him on a permanent deal at no cost and thankfully he put pen to paper on a 5 year deal.
The season rolled on and whilst we lost a few games we were also winning games setting up in the 442 system that I used in the Netherlands. The achiles heal was that we were susceptible to concede late goals that cost us vital points. Watkins and Thijssen were both getting amongst the goals both ending the season on 27 and 12 goals respectively. Bertrand Traore was enjoying his football playing on the right side of our midfield he had 12 assists whilst netting 5 times himself.
We flirted with the FA Cup reaching the last 8 before losing 3-0 to Liverpool but we were picking up vital points in the league and managed to pull ourselves clear of the relegation zone finally finishing in 12th position in the table to the joy of the board and supporters.
The hard work starts now we have remained in the Premier League and now it’s time for me to make some big decisions ahead of my first full season at the club. The board have said they want a mid table finish but I would not be satisfied in just achieving mid table mediocrity and will be aiming for European qualification. I have decided that the backroom staff will have a complete makeover meaning that everyone from the Director of Football down will leave the club meaning I will be bringing in my own staff.
The scouting network will also see a complete revamp with better quality scouts coming in and a system of scouting implemented thats mainl focus on identifying youngsters that we can bring in to our development system.
The squads below the 1st team are sub standard for a Premier League club and an area that I want and the club needs to do. The 1st team squad will also be freshened up with a number of players coming and going.
The Villa Revolution starts now…….. thank you for reading