Ah, good ol’ England.
The international break is here once again (boo).
With the Premier League finally back after a long summer of nothing but transfer rumours, it always seems kinda cruel that we have to endure a break for international games in September and October.
So, in an attempt to mix the two, we decided to fling an England side into the Premier League, to see how the boys would get on against the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.
How do we make this fantasy come true, we hear you ask?
Using the ever-reliable Football Manager 2017, of course.
Using the game’s editor tool, we created an ‘England FC’ team using old Tottenham side as a base – basically because we’re lazy and Spurs have the most England internationals in their ranks already.
Next, we axed Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele and co, and replaced them with the likes of Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson.
Sorry, Spurs fans.
Take a look:
So, we used the last squad that Southgate called-up (the one that drew against Scotland and lost 3-2 to France) along with a few others who would’ve got into the side if they weren’t injured or suspended.
We tried to make it as true to the current England side as possible (our skills with the editor tool are fairly alright, but not great), so home games are played at Wembley and Southgate and Steven Holland are manager and assistant respectively.
They’ve even got the England home and away kits.
We then simulated one whole Premier League season to see how they got on in the league, FA Cup, EFL Cup and Champions League (spoiler alert, they got further than the actual Spurs side did last season).
Here’s what happened:
So, England FC didn’t win the Premier League.
In fact, they didn’t even come close, finishing the season in lowly seventh, 13 points off the top and eight away from the top four.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, Man United and Watford(?!) all finished above them.
Let’s have a little look at how Southgate’s side lined-up:
Well, it looks like they played a midfield three of Dele Alli, Jake Livermore and Eric Dier, which is pretty similar to how Southgate set-up England last time out.
Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Gary Cahill looked like regular starters, while Ryan Bertrand, John Stones, Chris Smalling and even Ben Gibson all played their parts in defence.
Fraser Forster started in goal.
Further forward, Man United youngster Marcus Rashford made a fairly impressive 41 appearances across all competitions – one of the most in the entire squad – ending the season with a 6.88 rating, scoring nine times.
Harry Kane was the club’s out-and-out striker, scoring 18 times in 34 Premier League appearances.
He also captained the side.
A few problems occurred.
Firstly, you may have noticed somewhere above that this England club has a year-long transfer ban.
We imposed that to simply stop the AI manager signing a host of foreign players, rendering this experiment pointless.
However, there was no stopping the club selling players, and by January, Kieran Trippier was out, joining Southampton for a measly £5.75million.
Also, we couldn’t prevent the brutal nature of football management, as England SACKED Gareth Southgate in December, just 155 days into the season.
They replaced him with former France and Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc.
Poor old Gareth.
Shall we have a look at how England did in the cup competitions?
England went as far as the semi-final stage of the EFL Cup, losing to eventual winners Arsenal 3-2 on aggregate.
While it was a Fifth Round exit against finalists Man City in the FA Cup.
Most impressive was their run in the Champions League, going as far as the quarter-final stage of the competition before losing out to… Arsenal, again.
On a side note, it’s interesting to see four Premier League-based clubs in the last eight, considering they’re all missing their English core.
So, there we go then.
No title success and a sacked Southgate.
Guess it’s just as well they stick to playing the San Marino’s and Lithuania’s of the world during the qualifiers, right?