When I did my Cadbury save in FM21, the one thing I regretted was not documenting it in a blog. I vowed to not make that mistake again and made a promise to myself that my Sheffield FC save would be different.
As you can guess, it wasn’t. I’ve just finished the 10th season of ‘Woman of Steel‘ and this is the first time that I’ve written about it properly.
I’m not writing a guide on how to be successful as a lower league manager; that’s maybe something for another time. This is purely a blog about how the targets I set seven months ago are going.
If you’re looking for more of an overview of how the seasons have progressed, I’d recommend heading over to Twitter and reading the #ffmsteel hashtag, where I have documented as much as I can. I throw in the occasional save update graphic, with the most recent being below.
Firstly, I want to briefly introduce Kat Roberts to those who are new to the save. I always use a persona for my managers on Football Manager, as I feel it adds so many possibilities for narration, but this is the first time I’ve decided to use a real person as a base. When Sheffield were selected as the team for the save through a Twitter vote, there was only one person to come to mind.
Kathleen Roberts is the last remaining member of the Sheffield Women of Steel, a group of female workers who were drafted in to keep the steel industry running during World War II. When you read about Kathleen and the other workers, the same words always come up when describing them: Strong. Tough. Determined. Resilient. Brave.
All traits a female manager would need in order to be successful in the male dominated world of football.
You can read more of their story on the Yorkshire Post website.
Setting goals was something I knew I needed to do; I wanted an end point rather than just aimlessly clicking through game days until FM24 came out. I chose a mixture of difficulties, and, 10 seasons in, we’re checking them off nicely, but one is eluding me more than most.
1) Become a Club Legend ✔️
This is perhaps one of the easiest things to achieve in Football Manager. Get promoted a few times, win a few cups, and you’re well on your way to becoming a legend, an objective that was achieved in Season 5 for Kat Roberts. But good luck getting them to name a stadium after you…
2) Build a New Stadium in Sheffield ✔️
Full disclosure: Sheffield play their football in Dronfield, which is just outside of Sheffield, a fact that is reflected in the database I use. This meant I had to use the editor to change the stadium location; otherwise, Sheffield wouldn’t have gone back home.
Season 5 also saw the dawn of a new era in Sheffield. After a newly appointed Tycoon Chairperson took over the running of the club, Crestwick Prest Stadium began development. Originally named Matt Roney Stadium (a Sheffield FC legend in his own right), the name was changed to honour the two founders of Sheffield FC.
We only managed one and a half seasons of actually playing there before another stadium was announced, which the board has imaginatively called ‘Sheffield Stadium’. The build is due to finish at the end of Season 11.
3) Sign & Develop ‘Sheffield Steel’ Players ❌
As is the case with the majority of FM’ers, I usually end up overloading my squad with players from abroad (who can really resist a Brazilian or Serbian newgen). This was something I was keen to avoid, so I came up with the idea of ‘Sheffield Steel’ and having a full starting XI of qualifying players. I just didn’t imagine how hard it would be to actually achieve this in my save.
To qualify as ‘Sheffield Steel’, a player must fit one of the following criteria:
Despite being the 9th largest city in the UK, the number of players in my database who were born in Sheffield seems quite small at 183, with 137 of these being newgens. This gives me a qualifying percentage of 0.07%.
Homegrown in Sheffield means anyone who has trained at any club in Sheffield, aged 0–21. This includes the bigger teams (Sheff Wed/Utd) and non-league teams (Handsworth/Hallam). The bonus of this criteria is that, if I sign a player young enough, they might eventually qualify through this route too. As it stands, there are 406 players in the database, giving a slightly better percentage of 0.17%.
Developed Through Sheffield FC Academy is the one where I’m finally seeing some progress; it’s taken almost a decade and millions of pounds of investment, but the youth intake is starting to bring some quality players through. Though none are currently in the first team, I feel there are at least five players in the U21 and U18 squads who have the potential to become ‘Sheffield Steel’ starters in the future.
Heading into the preseason of Season 11, we have 4 players in the first team squad who qualify as ‘Sheffield Steel’, and all of those are earmarked to leave. While the rest of the save is progressing well, this goal is clearly one where I’ll need to have a little bit of patience before seeing results.
4) Reach Premier League ✔️
I’ll be honest, there’s no chance at all that this would have been achieved so quickly if it weren’t for the Tycoon takeover. Being able to turn professional while in the National League gave us a massive advantage over our opponents; there’s also been ample transfer and wage budgets every season. So, here’s to you, Mr. Naser; it will be a sad day when you leave.
5) Win Champions League ❌
The ultimate aim of the save.
After overachieving and finishing 5th in the Premier League during Season 10, we qualified for the Europa League. I never imagined our first European appearance to be quite so soon, but the Europa League is a nice introduction, nothing too demanding, and it adds a bit of fun to the save.
Then the inbox message came.